“As the scholarly communications community mobilizes to respond and adapt to the seismic changes in the landscape resulting from the OSTP’s announcement of a zero embargo policy for research papers resulting from federal funding, I’ve been looking back at previous groundbreaking policy changes (the RCUK OA policy, and the previous OSTP Holdren Memo) and noticing how many of the same issues those policies faced remain unresolved….
In that post, I argued that the complexities (and costs) of compliance are often underestimated, and that the most effective route to high levels of compliance is automation, essentially taking the work of compliance out of the hands of the researchers and taking care of it for them. We know that much of the success of past US public access policies is due to publishers’ voluntarily depositing articles in repositories like PubMed Central (PMC) on behalf of funded authors.
In that  post, I suggested that, due to increasing competition from the free versions of papers, “it is unlikely we’ll see another such industry-wide effort to automatically post papers in third party repositories.” That was before the zero embargo requirement, putting subscription revenue at great risk and before tools like Unsub had leveled the playing field for libraries, leading to increased subscription cancellations. Which makes voluntary publisher deposit by publishers much less likely for this policy (unless, as is already the case for many journals, it becomes a paid service offering which may help offset potential subscription losses)….
It’s also worth considering that the new OSTP policy goes beyond just the deposit of a raw manuscript in a repository. That manuscript has to meet all kinds of new metadata, persistent identifier, machine reading, and accessibility requirements, none of which a PDF or Word document from an author will fulfill. So that’s more infrastructure, time, and effort that agencies will have to invest (or potentially pay to outsource to publishers)….
One of the striking things learned when doing the initial pilot studies that led to the building of CHORUS was that very few papers had only one funding source listed. So, for each paper, it is likely that multiple, sometimes overlapping, sometimes contradictory funder policies must be followed….”