Today, the White House released a memo directing federal agencies to make publicly funded research available to the people who pay for it:
“The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) hereby directs each Federal agency with over $100 million in annual conduct of research and development expenditures to develop a plan to support increased public access to the results of research funded by the Federal Government.”
The directive is similar to the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), a recent bi-partisan legislative proposal aimed at opening up access to federally funded research, although the waiting twelve month waiting period before research is made available in the White House plan is twice the length of the six month delay suggested by FASTR. Both the White House plan and FASTR build upon the success of the National Institute of Health’s 2008 public access policy.
Dr. John Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, thanked signers of a We The People petition calling for the reform, saying its popularity was “important to our discussions of this issue.”
Today’s announcement could be critical to addressing the broken for profit academic publishing system that has led to a flourishing open access movement in scholarly circles. The movement gained a new public spotlight following the suicide of activist Aaron Swartz while facing prosecution for what many believe was an attempt to liberate research from the closed academic database JSTOR.