3 takeaways from the 2022 White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

Published Sep. 29, 2022
Updated Oct. 18, 2022

It’s been an exciting first month of the semester, especially with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) releasing a memorandum on Ensuring Free, Immediate, and Equitable Access to Federally Funded Research. This memo directs all federal funding agencies to develop policies to ensure that the scholarly publications and related data supported by their funds are freely and publicly available as soon as they are published.

a view of the outside columns of the central portico of the White House in Washington, D.C, with a deep blue sky behind.
"A visit to the White House" by PLBechly is licensed CC-BY-SA

This memo has a lot to unpack and there are many things we do not yet know. Here are the top three impacts to help you right now: 

  1. The policies will apply to both “scholarly publications” and the underlying “scientific data.” “Scholarly publications” for this purpose include works that have been peer-reviewed, such as journal articles or manuscripts, book chapters, and conference proceedings, published as a result of the funded research. “Scientific Data” refers to the underlying factual material that will allow others to replicate and validate research findings as reported in scholarly publications.
  2. Federal funders will NOT require researchers to pay to publish their work in a journal - the memo specifically states that scholarly publications and data will need to be added to a designated repository to share with the public. For example, since 2009, all NIH-funded research has been required to be included in PubMed Central, whether linked from an open access journal or directly deposited by researchers.
  3. All federal agencies must complete and share their plans by December 31, 2024, and take effect no later than December 31, 2025. 

While agencies still need to get their plans in place, many agencies have already done a lot of the legwork to comply with these requirements. A similar OSTP memo in 2013 required all agencies with budgets of over $100 million to make the research outputs resulting from federal funds publicly accessible within 12-months of publication. As a result of that memo, more than 8 million scholarly publications have become accessible to the public. After six years of practice and feedback, we’ve experienced both the value and drawbacks of that directive. 

Head of OSTP Dr. Alondra Nelson, in the current memo, explains:

“Years of public feedback have indicated that the primary limitation of the 2013 Memorandum is the optional 12-month embargo from public access of any publication resulting from federally funded research. This provision has limited immediate access of federally funded research results to only those able to pay for it or who have privileged access through libraries or other institutions.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, all data and research results, through the Open COVID Pledge, were made as open as possible, as quickly as possible, in order to identify the most effective countermeasures and inform policy on a global scale. Through the directions of this memo, this approach to research and the discovery of new knowledge can be applied to all fields, not just each health emergency as it occurs.

This semester, we will explore and share information related to new developments in open science practices, especially those related to federal funding agencies. Our next post will dive into the new and upcoming National Institute of Health (NIH) Data Management & Sharing Policy that affects requirements related to data management and data sharing for NIH-funded research. The NIH has long set the standard for public access to funded research, and we can look to them as a likely leader for other federal agencies.

The Open Science and Scholarly Communication unit at the ASU Library will continue to keep you informed as things develop. Stay tuned to our blog for future updates.