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How to Accelerate Public Access

by Jeffrey Salmon on Mon, April 20, 2015

Alternate Text PlaceholderFor science agencies, access to federally funded research is a key part of our mission.  And the very first requirement for federal agency public access plans directed by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) was that the plans must encompass “a strategy for leveraging existing archives, where appropriate, and fostering public-private partnerships with scientific journals relevant to the agency’s research [emphasis added].”  This 2013 OSTP memo is replete with calls for public-private partnerships.  When it comes to the key issue of repositories, for example, agencies are told that “[r]epositories could be maintained by the Federal agency funding the research, through an arrangement with other Federal agencies, or through other parties working in partnership with the agency including, but not limited to, scholarly and professional associations, publishers, and libraries [emphasis added].”  Under the section on “Objectives for Public Access to Scientific Publications,” the OSTP memo states that agency plans “shall …[e]ncourage public-private collaboration to: maximize the potential for interoperability between public and private platforms and creative reuse to enhance value to all stakeholders, avoid unnecessary duplication of existing mechanisms, maximize the impact of the Federal research investment, and otherwise assist with implementation of the agency plan [emphasis added].”  And public-private partnerships are also called out in the memo’s section on data management plans.

In its clear-cut instructions to agencies to reach out to publishers, libraries, and others, OSTP followed equally clear-cut instructions from Congress in the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010, which called on the National Science and Technology Council to set up a working group to coordinate policy within the government on dissemination of research results.  The Act requires the government to “solicit input and recommendations from, and collaborate with, non-Federal stakeholders, including the public, universities, nonprofit and for-profit publishers, libraries, federally funded and non-federally funded research scientists, and other organizations and institutions with a stake in long term preservation and access to the results of federally funded research [emphasis added].”  The result of those working group meetings was the OSTP public access memo and … in the fullness of time … agency public access plans such as the one DOE released in July 2014.   

From the first, and even before the clarion calls and requirements from Congress and OSTP for partnerships with stakeholders, the Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) acting for DOE has made collaboration a byword.  DOE was an early adopter of the concept of a distributed approach to public access in the kind of public-private partnership that OSTP later encouraged in its memo on public access.  DOE worked with the publishing community through participation in CrossRef’s FundRef project.  FundRef provides a standard way to report funding sources for published scholarly research, thereby helping an agency identify and account for journal articles resulting from its research investments.  Publishers deposit funding information from articles and other content using a standard taxonomy of funder names.  DOE worked with CrossRef to provide an accurate taxonomy of agency funding sources.  OSTI is a member of the FundRef Advisory Group and has been involved since the first FundRef pilot project in 2012.

Most recently, we have added an OSTI employee to a working group for SHARE, the SHared Access Research Ecosystem, which describes itself as a “higher education and research community initiative to ensure the preservation of, access to, and reuse of research outputs.”  We believe that collaboration is going very well.

DOE is hardly alone among science agencies when it comes to the issue of collaboration.  DOE has worked successfully with other agencies from the outset to see how best to coordinate efforts and find ways to eliminate or minimize duplication of efforts.  Indeed, we have learned a great deal from the experience of other agencies that fund R&D, and this sharing of knowledge and even technologies to facilitate public access is a real success story. 

With the DOE Public Access Plan, OSTI launched DOE PAGESBeta, the DOE public access portal, now in its pilot or beta stage.  DOE-funded authors are required to submit their accepted manuscripts (AMs), hosted at lab or grantee institutional repositories, to OSTI.  This is the cornerstone of the DOE Public Access Plan and how DOE ensures long-term preservation and access.

Through OSTI, DOE and its predecessor agencies have been providing public access to research since 1947.  This has meant keeping up with and implementing radically changing technology across decades.  This has meant partnering with stakeholders.  And this has meant having a modern, robust infrastructure in place to work with DOE researchers and grantees to efficiently collect all forms of scientific and technical information (STI).  Indeed, DOE PAGESBeta builds on the long-established DOE Scientific and Technical Information Program (STIP), a collaboration of STI managers and technical information officers from across the DOE complex responsible for identifying, collecting, archiving, and making accessible the results of DOE-funded R&D.  Ensuring public access to journal literature is simply an extension of what we do best.

To pave the way for more seamless access to DOE-sponsored journal articles and accepted manuscripts, OSTI has collaborated with CHORUS, the Clearinghouse for the Open Research of the United States, a consortium of publishers working to facilitate access to scholarly publications consistent with recent government mandates.  The publishers now signed on as CHORUS members and committed to enhancing public access comprise the vast majority of those who publish DOE-sponsored research.  

Recently, DOE signed an agreement with CHORUS describing the actions each will take to ensure greater public access and fulfill OSTP requirements.  CHORUS and the CrossRef infrastructure will supply an ongoing feed of DOE-affiliated journal article metadata and links to full-text articles on publisher websites, a very useful complement to DOE’s well-established infrastructure for capturing and making available its research results.  Formalizing this collaboration can only propel our acquisition process leading to more comprehensive coverage of the landscape of articles. 

And if you are keeping score, this collaboration responds directly to OSTP’s demand that … through partnerships … agencies “shall … maximize the potential for interoperability between public and private platforms and creative reuse to enhance value to all stakeholders, avoid unnecessary duplication of existing mechanisms, maximize the impact of the Federal research investment, and otherwise assist with implementation of the agency plan.”

Working with CHORUS or any group, of course, is not a substitute for, but a complement of, the existing DOE STIP infrastructure that has been gathering R&D results for the public for over 60 years.  Collaborations like this create a powerful synergy for the public benefit. 

That said, patience is called for.  DOE is barely nine months out from release of its public access plan – and still months away from a deadline to submit articles within the 12-month embargo period.  It will take time to get all the systems working and to socialize the requirements with DOE-funded authors.  But partnerships with all the communities that care about public access have brought us further than we would have ever hoped just a few years ago.  We expect that progress to continue.

Note: For a CHORUS blog about its agreement with DOE, please click here

Dr. Jeffrey Salmon is Deputy Director for Resource Management in the Department of Energy Office of Science.


Related OSTI Products: DOE PAGES(Beta)-Obsolete
Other Related Topics: CHORUS
Page last updated on 2017-09-08 12:41

About the Author

Dr. Jeffrey Salmon's picture
Jeffrey Salmon
Deputy Director for Resource Management, U.S. DOE Office of Science