Big day for open access

If you’re one of my few readers who don’t follow open access developments elsewhere–and I’m guessing there aren’t many of you:

This is a very big and mostly good news day.


  • The White House responded to the We the People petition on open access.
  • The nature of the response is excellent, almost astonishing. Quoting from Dr. John Holdren’s response (the link above):

I have issued a memorandum today (.pdf) to Federal agencies that directs those with more than $100 million in research and development expenditures to develop plans to make the results of federally-funded research publically available free of charge within 12 months after original publication. As you pointed out, the public access policy adopted by the National Institutes of Health has been a great success. And while this new policy call does not insist that every agency copy the NIH approach exactly, it does ensure that similar policies will appear across government.

This is probably the biggest gain in OA since the NIH policy became law.

And there’s more (again quoting from the response):

In addition to addressing the issue of public access to scientific publications, the memorandum requires that agencies start to address the need to improve upon the management and sharing of scientific data produced with Federal funding.

That goes beyond free access to reports, to encourage open data–access to the actual data.

So why the mostly?

It’s good news. It’s very good news. But, as usual, it could always be better.

  • I’ll suggest–as other more knowledgeable sorts are–that this does not mean FRPAA isn’t needed. This is an administration policy, subject to reversal by a new administration. FRPAA would be a law (also, to be sure, subject to reversal, but a little stronger).
  • This memo (and NIH policy) allow for up to a one-year embargo. Ideally, there would be no embargo, or at most a six-month embargo. Delayed open access still delays progress.

But in this case, three-quarters of a loaf is most decidedly better than none!

You’ll have no trouble finding oodles of cheering, commentary and (I imagine) bitching & moaning from all the usual suspects. Meantime, it’s definitely a fine day for OA.


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