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Science Committee Presses OSTP on Public Access Policy

OCT 24, 2022
Mitch Ambrose headshot
Director of Science Policy News American Institute of Physics
House Science Committee Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Chair Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) at a hearing in 2019.

House Science Committee Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Chair Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) at a hearing.

(Cable Risdon / Risdonfoto, courtesy of the National Academy of Sciences)

Leaders of the House Science Committee sent a letter to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy last week seeking clarification on the office’s watershed memorandum that generally requires federally funded research articles and supporting data to be made freely available upon publication, starting in 2026.

The letter registers concern that the memo is “short on details of how the new requirements will be implemented,” especially with respect to data.

“Making data accessible in a way that is truly useful to advance science has always been a more difficult technical, cultural, and economic challenge than making publications available,” wrote Committee Chair Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK).

In addition, Johnson and Lucas ask OSTP whether it anticipates new appropriations will be necessary to support data repositories, whether it will orchestrate a government-wide definition of scientific data or permit variations across disciplines, and whether it will require data be made accessible in perpetuity.

Concerning the memo’s directive to eliminate the 12-month embargo periods allowed under current policy, they ask how OSTP will ensure the publication fees that some journals charge to make articles open access do not sap research funds and how it will help researchers with limited resources pay such fees.

They also urge OSTP to address these and other implementation issues in the coming months through a new round of stakeholder meetings as well as public workshops.

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