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Obama's Open Government Plan Includes Open Access for Research Publications

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The White House plans to make data and information from federally-funded research available for public access and use as part of the Open Government Directive that President Barack Obama announced this week.

The administration yesterday posted a notice in the Federal Register seeking comments from interested parties on what forms the federal data policy should take.

As a model, the administration's Office of Science and Technology Policy proposed the open access model adopted by the National Institutes of Health in 2008. That policy requires that all investigators funded by NIH submit an electronic version of their final, peer-reviewed manuscripts upon acceptance for publication no later than 12 months after the official date of publication.

"The NIH model has a variety of features that can be evaluated, and there are other ways to offer the public enhanced access to peer-reviewed scholarly publications," OSTP said in the request for information. "The best models may [be] influenced by agency mission, the culture and rate of scientific development of the discipline, funding to develop archival capabilities, and research funding mechanisms."

Increasing public access to articles and data from federally funded research may enhance America's return on its research investment in a number of ways, including making access to scholarly publications more timely, simpler, and cheaper for scientists, OSTP said. This could in turn promote further advances in science and technology, it said.

Such policies also could make searching archives easier and improve cross-government coordination of federal agencies that fund research initiatives, OSTP added.

The White House advisors also believe that open access will enable educators, students, and end-users, such as doctors and patients, to access results from federally funded research more easily, swiftly, and cheaply than under current policies.

"It's very encouraging to see the Obama Administration focus on ensuring public access to the results of taxpayer-funded research as a key way to maximize our collective investment in science," Heather Joseph, executive director of the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, a group that advocates for open access policies, told GenomeWeb Daily News in an e-mail.

Joseph said that the inclusion of public access policy for taxpayer-funded research in the open government discussion "sends a strong signal that the time is right to unleash the value of this information by making sure it can be both widely shared and fully used."

"Today's announcement will help to make government more open, transparent, and accountable to bridge the gap between the American people and their government," White House Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag said in a statement on Tuesday.