New OSTP Policy Signals Change in Public Access to Research

07 November 2022
Patrick Franzen

On 25 August, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released a memorandum outlining a new plan focused on “ensuring free, immediate, and equitable access to federally funded research.” The memorandum establishes a general framework to make all peer-reviewed publications and supporting data resulting from US government-funded research publicly available, immediately after publication.

Previous US policy allowed an optional 12-month embargo period on published research supported by federal funding. All federal agencies will be required to comply with the new policy by 31 December 2025.

The new OSTP guidelines have been met with mixed reactions within the scholarly publishing community. Advocates for open access publishing have applauded the news and describe it as a huge step forward for the open science movement. Publishers who have exploited the 12-month embargo to drive increased subscription revenue, however, have voiced concern about the impact on their financial viability once it is no longer allowed.

SPIE is not one of these publishers. For more than a decade, we have extended a zero-month embargo on all proceedings and journals papers. Under this policy, we allow all authors, and not just those funded by the US government, to make their papers publicly available through their local institutional repositories. While we understand that the new OSTP policy will likely require some business process changes within SPIE publications, we do not share the fears of other publishers. We believe that our current policies have positioned us well.

It is also important to keep in mind that the new OSTP memorandum only gives general guidelines and a proposed date for compliance. There are still many details that have yet to be communicated, identified, or outlined, but change is coming. When the guidelines are finalized, SPIE will adjust our processes and support authors in implementing any necessary changes. In the meantime, SPIE will continue to offer our zero-month embargo, track developments within OSTP closely, and serve our community of researchers and engineers.

Read the memorandum here.

Patrick Franzen is the SPIE Director of Publications and Platform.

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