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Plan for Open Access

The Obama administration announced a new open-access plan on Friday, calling for the public to be able to freely access the results of federally funded research. A memo from John Holdren, who heads the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, directs federal agencies that spend more than $100 million a year on research and development to devise a plan to implement public access to such research.

The New York Times notes that this policy affects the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Agriculture; the National Institutes of Health has an open-access policy in place.

According to the memo, the agencies are to ensure that papers stemming from research they fund should be freely available to the public within a year of publication, though that timeframe is a guideline and could differ for different disciplines.

As the Chronicle of Higher Education reports, the Association of American Publishers said in a statement that the new policy "outlines a reasonable, balanced resolution of issues around public access to research funded by federal agencies."

ScienceInsider notes that a citizens' petition to the White House from May, signed by more than 65,000 people, called on the administration to implement such open-access policies. In his response to that petition, Holdren writes that "we know that scientific research supported by the Federal Government spurs scientific breakthroughs and economic advances when research results are made available to innovators. Policies that mobilize these intellectual assets for re-use through broader access can accelerate scientific breakthroughs, increase innovation, and promote economic growth."

The agencies have six months to develop their plans.