The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has issued a major policy memorandum that calls on federal science agencies such as the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to develop and implement public access plans for making accepted manuscripts and peer-reviewed scientific journal articles and scientific data in digital formats resulting from agency research investments publicly available in a timely fashion.
In the February 22, 2013, memorandum "Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Research," OSTP Director John Holdren directed agencies that spend more than $100 million a year on research and development to prepare plans to make the results of research they fund publicly available within a year of publication. (The OSTP memo states that agencies "shall use a 12-month post-publication embargo period as a guideline for making research papers publicly available” and notes that an agency can tailor its plan and other stakeholders can petition for changing the embargo period.) Agencies have six months to submit their public access plans to OSTP for review.
Dr. William Brinkman, then DOE Office of Science Director, welcomed the OSTP policy memo in an interagency news release: "Collaboration, transparency and open access to scientific findings accelerate discovery and innovation. The Department of Energy has been working for years with our colleagues in other science agencies and our stakeholders to advance open access. So we fully support the goals of the OSTP memorandum and will work quickly to develop and implement policies and procedures so that peer-reviewed journal articles funded by the Office of Science are available to the public."
OSTI has collected, preserved and disseminated scientific and technical information emanating from R&D performed by DOE and its predecessor agencies for nearly 70 years. Despite the breadth of these collections, they generally do not include what is considered the "gold standard" of scientific communication – peer-reviewed journal articles or final accepted manuscripts resulting from agency funding, and this gap in what OSTI offers is not unique to DOE. With the exception of the National Institutes of Health, which has had a legislative public access mandate since 2008, most other federal science agencies do not provide public access to journal articles or manuscripts resulting from their funding.
"This is a huge and momentous opportunity for OSTI," said OSTI Director Walter L. Warnick. "At Dr. Brinkman’s request, OSTI has been developing a public access gateway as DOE’s answer to the OSTP directive, and we also look forward to helping draft the DOE public access policy for scientific publications."
In addition, OSTI has been briefing representatives of the DOE Scientific and Technical Information Program (STIP) from program and field offices and national laboratories about the OSTP policy and the OSTI gateway. DOE STIP managers will play a key role in implementing the DOE public access plan and populating the DOE gateway with accepted manuscripts and journal articles once it is deployed.