White House orders free and immediate access to publicly funded research
According to a White House directive, academic journals must provide immediate access to publicly funded papers, providing a major win for advocates of open research and eliminating a policy that allowed publishers to pay for one year. The publications were allowed to be kept behind. Thursday.
In preparing the new policy, which is set to be fully in place by early 2026, the Office of Science and Technology Policy said the guidance had the potential to save lives and benefit the public on several key priorities – from cancer successes to for clean-energy technology.
“The American people annually fund billions of dollars in cutting-edge research,” the head of the office, Dr. Alondra Nelson, said in a statement. “There should be no delay or impediment between the American public and the return on their investment in research.”
Advocates of open-research access, such as Greg Tannenbaum, director of the Open Research Funders Group, called the guidance “transformative” for researchers and the wider public. He said it produced a 2013 memorandum that was also instrumental in expanding public access to research but fell short in some areas.
The 2013 guidance applies to federal agencies with research and development expenditures of $100 million or more, about 20 of the largest agencies such as the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. Several experts said the guidance announced on Thursday covers nearly all federal bodies, a major expansion that includes about 400 or more entities.
The directive also required that publications be made available in machine-readable formats to ensure access and reuse, a component that open-access advocates hailed as a game-changer for accessibility.
The latest White House policy makes equity a guiding principle governing access to research, Tannenbaum said, giving colleges with fewer resources equal access to major research that already affluent institutions enjoy.
“If you’re at a large, R1, research-intensive institution, your academic library probably already has paid subscriptions to many of these journals, and so you have access,” he said of the universities with the highest research activity. Referring to. “But across America, a lot of people aren’t actually affiliated with R1 institutions. There are many more people who aren’t. This policy says, hey, they should have access to this information. Their taxes pay for it too. We do. “
The latest policy, he said, “widens the scope of science. It broadens the conversation.”
The cost of articles behind a paywall can be in the range of $25 and $50, said Erin McKiernan, a professor at Mexico’s National Autonomous University, which can add up to papers that must cite dozens or even hundreds of publications. Dr. McKiernan, who has worked in Mexico and Puerto Rico for the past decade, said she saw firsthand the impact of restricted access on students and colleagues.
He called the White House guidance “part of a larger global momentum toward research sharing.”
A spokeswoman for Springer Nature, one of the magazine’s largest publishers, said in a statement that it was still reviewing the White House memo, but that it had included more than 580 fully open-access journals and Nature among its offerings. Counted 2,000 magazines. Committed to transforming into open access.
But the statement also had the first signs of opposition to the White House directive. It said funding agencies should increase their financial support for publications in exchange for making research free to the public.
Elsevier, another publishing giant, said in a statement that it is looking forward to “working with the research community and OSTP to understand its guidance in more detail.”
Michael Eisen, University of California, Berkeley, professor and longtime champion of open access, said the government directive established a principle: that federally funded research should be free to the public. Previous attempts to do so have been watered down by arguments from inaction, compromise and the publication lobby, Dr. Eisen said.
“What’s so transformative about this for me,” Dr. Eisen said, “It’s that the government is finally putting down the hammer and saying, ‘Look, we can’t wait any longer. We’ve been talking about this for 30 years.'”
The White House said in a statement that President Biden has committed over the years to ensuring that the public has access to research. It was noted that he said in a 2016 commentary to the American Association for Cancer Research, when he was vice president, that people can pay hundreds or thousands of dollars to subscribe to a journal.
“And here’s the kicker – the Journal owns the data for a year,” Biden said at the time. “Taxpayers fund $5 billion in cancer research every year, but once it’s published, nearly all taxpayer-funded research sits behind walls. Tell me how it can speed up the process.” moving forward?”