Today, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) updated U.S. policy guidance to make the results of taxpayer-supported research immediately available to the American public at no cost. In a memorandum to federal departments and agencies, Dr. Alondra Nelson, the head of OSTP, delivered guidance for agencies to update their public access policies as soon as possible to make publications and research funded by taxpayers publicly accessible, without an embargo or cost. All agencies will fully implement updated policies, including ending the optional 12-month embargo, no later than December 31, 2025.
Further details about the move in the United States to make publicly funded research immediately available to the public. Our initial enthusiasm about this presidential direction was tempered somewhat by the clarification of what was meant by publicly available. A limited step, that won’t mean that the general public will sleep get free access to the latest scientific theory. Nevertheless, the step represent the start of a lumbering journey towards open science.
For years, President Biden has been committed to delivering policy based on the best available science, and to working to ensure the American people have access to the findings of that research. “Right now, you work for years to come up with a significant breakthrough, and if you do, you get to publish a paper in one of the top journals,” said then-Vice President Biden in remarks to the American Association for Cancer Research in 2016. “For anyone to get access to that publication, they have to pay hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars to subscribe to a single journal. And here’s the kicker — the journal owns the data for a year. The taxpayers fund $5 billion a year in cancer research every year, but once it’s published, nearly all of that taxpayer-funded research sits behind walls. Tell me how this is moving the process along more rapidly.” The new public access guidance was developed with the input of multiple federal agencies over the course of this year, to enable progress on a number of Biden-Harris Administration priorities.