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OSTIblog Posts by Dr. Jeffrey Salmon

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

The Grand Compromise of U.S. Public Access Programs: Going Green

Published on Sep 12, 2016

DOE PAGES

In April 2012, The Economist ran a biting editorial arguing that, “[w]hen research is funded by the taxpayer or by charities, the results should be available to all without charge.”  Academic journals, the magazine contended, were raking in huge profits by selling content that was supplied to them largely for free and in the process restricting public access to valuable research to just those willing to pay for subscriptions.  The answer to this “absurd and unjust” situation, The Economist wrote, is “simple”: governments and foundations that fund research “should require that the results be made available free to the public.”

We at the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) have found that providing full public access to the research DOE funds is simple in principle and complex in practice.  And reflecting on this 2012 editorial, we can say that a great deal of progress has been made toward reaching the goal of free public access it sets out.  And much of that progress is due to hard collaborative work by both the government and publishers. 

Following the February 2013 memo from the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) on “Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Scientific Research,” all major U.S. federal science agencies are now implementing public access plans, which comprehend both publications and data.

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How to Accelerate Public Access

Published on Apr 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.

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Achieving Public Access: The Department of Energy Launches DOE PAGES(Beta)

Published on Aug 04, 2014

Alternate Text PlaceholderClick here (www.osti.gov/pages/) to view the future of public access to scientific publications.

As of August 4, 2014, and for the first time ever, the Department of Energy (DOE) will provide a portal (see above) allowing anyone to read, download, and analyze in digital form final peer-reviewed manuscripts or final published articles of work sponsored by the Department.  You can read the entire DOE public access plan here.

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Basic Research and Innovation

Published on Mar 24, 2014

Basic Research and Innovation

 

Recently, I attended a roundtable discussion hosted by the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C. on the topic of innovation – how it comes about, what factors can impede it, where the U.S. might be headed as a lead innovator in the 21st Century, and what cultural and ethical issues need to be considered in a complete understanding of innovation.

As a science and technology agency, the Department of Energy (DOE) cares a great deal about questions surrounding innovation.  As an information management agency within DOE, the Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) works to accelerate innovation through the sharing of knowledge.  We also love to point out where DOE has done just that.

The discussion at Hudson on innovation was rich and multi-layered.  But there were a set of key ideas and arguments that should be of particular interest to DOE and OSTI.

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OSTI Is Re-Focusing and Re-Balancing Its Operations – And Refreshing Its Home Page – to Advance Public Access

Products and Content

Published on Mar 03, 2014

Scientific and Technical Information Program (STIP)

 

Let’s call it creative destruction, borrowing from a popular term in economics.  The idea is that the very essence of capitalism is the destruction of old structures and the building of new ones that inevitably face the same pressures as the structures they replaced.  It’s the reason the buggy whip industry fell on hard times. The information management business of the Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) is in constant flux too, where the next big thing can soon become the next big flop. OSTI cannot be immune to these disruptive forces, nor would we wish it to be.  Here, I would like to focus on just one of many disruptive forces in the information management and information technology worlds compelling OSTI to change, the push for greater public access to federally-funded R&D results.  Frankly, it’s a disruptive force we welcome.

Increasingly the legislative and executive branches of government have emphasized public access to federally-funded scholarly publications (i.e., journal articles and accepted manuscripts) and digital datasets. OSTI will lead the implementation of public access to scholarly publications for DOE, just as the organization has offered public access to other forms of scientific and technical information (STI) emanating from DOE and its predecessor agencies for the past 67 years.

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The National Library of Energy(Beta): A Gateway to Information about the “All-of-the-Above” Energy Strategy

Science Communications

Published on Sep 26, 2013

NLE

 

While I have not taken a formal survey, my experience over many years as a Department of Energy (DOE) employee suggest to me that most people have no idea what DOE does.  Let me amend that.  Many people know exactly what we do.  DOE controls the price of gas at the pump; it manages natural gas drilling, builds pipe lines and regulates refineries.  As it turns out, people know a great deal about DOE, it’s just that most of it is dead wrong.

Look it up and you’ll find that “[t]he mission of the Energy Department is to ensure America’s security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions.”  Hmm.  Nothing about gas prices there.

Once you get a bead on the DOE mission you are ready to mine its extraordinary set of resources.  And if you are looking for the ultimate search experience in exploring  DOE’s vast holdings of diverse types of science- and energy-related information, you will want to use the newly developed National Library of EnergyBeta (NLEBeta) search tool.  That little “Beta” notation means we are still testing NLE, and it’s an invitation to help us improve the site before we “go live.”

The  NLEBeta is an important DOE open government initiative – and an easy-to-use gateway to information in all of DOE’s broad mission areas: science and R&D; energy and technology for industry and homeowners; energy market information and analysis; and nuclear security and environmental management. 

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Open Science: the Case for Preserving Raw Data

Technology

Published on Jul 12, 2011

Everyone speaks well of the idea that the results of scientific research should be open for all to see, although there are obvious caveats to complete openness: Proprietary research, human subjects research, preliminary results, the pace and timing for releasing results, all come to mind.  But when it comes to research funded by the taxpayer, open science is almost a truism.  And again, while there are practical and principled reasons why complete openness is sometimes restricted, the readers of the OSTI blog will be familiar with the arguments for openness; the principle of reproducibility is a fundamental tenant of science, the possibility of accelerating the pace of discovery by making scientific results readily and easily accessible, these are just two critical pieces of the argument.  There is another reason for openness connected to both these points that was highlighted recently in Jonah Lehrer’s always interesting Head Case column in the Wall Street Journal (6/25/11).

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OSTI’s Committee of Visitors, An Update

Science Communications

Published on May 23, 2011

OSTI’s Committee of Visitors

 

"The unexamined life is not worth living."  So says Plato's Socrates in the Apology.   His self-examination led to extreme humility (or to an extreme irony) when Socrates confessed to his accusers that the only knowledge he had was knowledge of his own ignorance.  No one we know of came away from a Socratic cross-examination in one piece, but they would at least have known their own limits.  And in knowing their limits, or their ignorance, they would somehow be better.

That's really the reason we open ourselves up to honest reviews of our own performance, or open our programs up to honest review by outsiders.  Now there are two ways to go about such reviews.  One is to gather your amen corner around you and have them tell you how great you are and what progress you are making and how important you are, etc. etc.  You can then announce to the world that you are a smashing success.  The other way is to gather serious, knowledgeable, and thoughtful people and let them ask hard questions; ask them to put you through a Socratic dialogue.  You'll almost always discover that there is room for improvement, if you choose the latter course. 

OSTI chose the latter course when it had a Committee of Visitors (CoV) review its programs.  A previous CoV report some years ago had proved helpful.  I felt it was time for another review. 

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OSTI’s Cool Roof

Technology

Published on Nov 10, 2010

OSTI’s Cool Roof

 

The Office of Science occupies many buildings around the country, but it owns only two of them.  One of them is making some news. The 134,629 sq. ft. (about 3 acres) roof of  the Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) building in Oak Ridge, Tennessee is now officially a Cool Roof, that is, it’s energy efficient in ways that darker roofs are not.  Cool roofs are light in color, so reflect rather than absorb sunlight.  Oak Ridge gets lots of sunlight.  The previous roof was black, but worse, it was leaky and those leaks, controlled for years in some very innovative ways by the OSTI staff, were going to cause significant problems if not addressed.  OSTI needed to invest in a new roof to ensure employee safety, protect the structural integrity of the largest federal office building managed by the Office of Science and safeguard its databases and historical collection of scientific and technical information documents, some of which date back to the Manhattan Project and which exist nowhere else. 

[Detail of OSTI's "before" roof]

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Recording Science: From Parchment to Pixels.

Technology

Published on Aug 06, 2010

Writer

 

One of the more fascinating pieces of work at a DOE National Laboratory was the examination of an ancient work by Archimedes on parchment that had been erased, written over, and so, mostly, lost to history. Lost, that is, until the SLAC synchrotron X-ray beam tore into the parchment and was able to let us see and read much of the original Archimedean text. Archimedes would have used a lab notebook, if he had had paper, or a computer and a thumb-drive to record his work if they had been available, but he did not live long enough to invent those things, which he probably could have if given the time. One hopes that before his study was erased, others were able to read it, profit from its insights, and use the knowledge as a springboard to another discovery. That’s one way we make progress.

We often hear that with declining costs in storage, increased bandwidth, and faster processing speeds, the power and potential of the electronic age to spread and communicate science are amazing things to ponder. I guess. But the work can still be lost, no matter how it is recorded. And some material, let’s face it, isn’t worth saving. Between this blog and Archimedes’ method of mechanical theorems, the work that SLAC was looking at, which would you save? What is needed now, as then, is someone to care about preserving the scientific findings that are worth preserving.

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