by Ginny Barbour
In a substantial game-changing move for open access globally, the US White House issued guidance last week that peer reviewed publicly funded research must be made immediately and freely available.
It builds on similar guidance in 2013 from the Obama administration that mandated federally funded research must be made available no later than 12 months after publication and also reflects previous priorities of the then Vice President Biden when in 2016 he launched the Cancer Moonshot. The language of the memorandum reflects many years of advocacy in the US, noting the positive role that access to research has in supporting equity and public trust in government science. The language makes clear that this is not open access for its own sake, but to support public access to research.
The guidance applies to around 400 US federal agencies that must now “update their public access policies as soon as possible, and no later than December 31st, 2025, to make publications and their supporting data resulting from federally funded research publicly accessible without an embargo on their free and public release.” Furthermore, the agencies must: “establish transparent procedures that ensure scientific and research integrity is maintained in public access policies;” and “coordinate with (the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy) to ensure equitable delivery of federally funded research results and data.”
The mechanism for making the research available is quite explicit: federal agencies are to develop plans that ensure “Peer Reviewed Scholarly Publications … are made freely available and publicly accessible by default in agency-designated repositories without any embargo or delay after publication.” In addition, “Scientific Data underlying peer-reviewed scholarly publications resulting from federally funded research should be made freely available and publicly accessible by default at the time of publication”. The extension of open principles to data will bolster transparency in research.