Policy Forum on Public Access to Federally Funded Research: Features and Technology

Cross-posted from the OSTP blog.

Tomorrow marks the last day of Phase One of OSTP’s forum on public access to published, federally funded research.

Well, not really the last day. In response to popular demand, we have decided to add some time for additional comments at the end of the scheduled process in January. But more about that in a minute.

First, thanks and kudos to everyone for making the first ten days of this process such a success. Together you weighed in with almost 200 substantive comments, many complete with links to studies and other valuable data sets that promise to keep our discussion and policy planning process evidence-based, as it should be.

As you can see by scrolling through the posts to date, you are, together, undergraduate and graduate students, scientists and mathematicians, teachers and professors, librarians and lobbyists, professionals in the business of scholarly publishing, and others. You have opined on the value of public access, the length of time that published material should remain proprietary, the version of a paper that should be made public, the importance of intellectual property concerns, the value that publishers add to scholarly papers, the array of business plans that might accommodate various degrees of public access, and the potential impacts of such changes on journal publishers, the rate of scientific and intellectual advancement, and the financial health of public and university libraries.

Though the process is still early, your participation already offers great evidence of the added value that can come from putting into practice the principles of open government.

On Monday morning we will publish a new blog post that introduces Phase Two of this forum, which will focus on Features and Technology. We will ask you to weigh in on such questions as: In what format should data be submitted in order to make it easy to search and retrieve information, and to make it easy for others to link to it? Are there existing digital standards for archiving and interoperability to maximize public benefit? How are these anticipated to change?

Phase Two will run through New Year’s Eve, and we are scheduled to wrap up with Phase Three (focused on “Management”) from Jan. 1 to Jan. 7.

However, we have heard from many of you that this schedule poses difficulties, especially because of the intervening holidays. We certainly don’t want to be held responsible for any family squabbles resulting from your decision to skip that holiday dinner with the in-laws just because there is a public access deadline looming. So we have decided (and will soon announce in the Federal Register) to add two weeks beyond the scheduled end of this forum. We will use those last two weeks to revisit, on a more detailed level, all three focus areas that will have been addressed by then—perhaps asking you to dive deeper into a few areas that, by then, show themselves as deserving additional attention.

Meanwhile, thanks to all of you for being responsive citizens as we consider this important policy question. We look forward to your ongoing and expanded participation!

Comment on this post at the OSTP blog.

Rick Weiss is Director of Strategic Communications and a Senior Policy Analyst at OSTP

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