Scholarly Publishing and Open Access blog

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Important milestone in the open access movement: immediate open access by 2026, in the US

Published by Alison Moore

This blog post was written by Ioana Liuta, SFU Digital Scholarship Librarian.

As the Budapest Open Access Initiative turns 20, several weeks ago in the USA, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP)  announced new guidance on access to federally funded research, namely for taxpayers to get immediate and free access to all publicly funded research, and their supporting data, by 2026.

The updated memorandum, aka Nelson Memo (named after Dr. Alondra Nelson, Performing the Duties of Director, OSTP) titled “Ensuring Free, Immediate, and Equitable Access to Federally Funded Research” extends the scope and significantly strengthens the current U.S. policy, the landmark 2008 "National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy" and the 2013 White House “Memorandum on Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Research”, aka Holdren Memo. In order to facilitate implementation, OSTP has also issued a report on the "Economic Landscape of Federal Public Access Policy". The amended federal policy will eliminate the current optional 12-month embargo period and will make research outputs, including articles but also book chapters, and, even more significantly, data, available immediately, with “zero embargo”, and at no cost to the public. 

This is an enormous leap forward. … For the first time, everyone will have free and immediate access to the results of all federally funded research to speed solutions for global challenges—from cancer to climate change. This crucial policy guidance lays the foundation for a more open and equitable system of research communication in the U.S. and globally.

Heather Joseph, Executive Director, SPARC

All US federal agencies with research and development expenditures will need to update their public access policies as soon as possible, but no later than December 31st, 2025. All the results of taxpayer-supported research, peer-reviewed scholarly publications (including peer-reviewed research articles, accepted manuscripts, refereed book chapters, peer-reviewed conference proceedings, or editorials), and scientific data (underlying peer-reviewed scholarly publications, unless subject to legal, privacy, ethical, technical, intellectual property, or security limitations), will have to be available without delay and accessible through a repository. There is also an emphasis on ensuring scientific and research integrity by embracing information-integrity measures, including appropriate metadata, and persistent digital identifiers for authors, in addition to a digital persistent identifier for the research output.

Open access mandates in Canada

The Nelson Memo is one of several commitments to open access publishing occurring worldwide, following in the footsteps of Plan S in Europe, and being similar, in Canada, to the Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications. This policy applies to all Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) funded grants awarded May 1, 2015 and onwards. Canadian Institutes of Health Research's (CIHR) existing Open Access Policy mandates open access compliance for research funded in whole or in part by CIHR after January 1, 2008. The policy requires that all the results of research/peer-reviewed journal articles, funded in whole or in part by the Agencies, must be made publicly available within 12 months of publication. No research data is included in the policy, but that could become a requirement in the future.

SFU's Open Access Policy

SFU has had an open access policy since 2017, which acknowledges the commitment of SFU faculty, students, and postdoctoral fellows to share the products of their SFU research with the broadest possible audience. To satisfy the policy requirement, SFU researchers can provide an electronic copy of the finalized text of their published articles to the Simon Fraser University Library. The Library will make the articles available to the public, taking into consideration requirements for access embargo.

Authors should submit the finalized text of articles via the Summit deposit form no later than the date of publication.

The SFU Open Access Policy complements pre-existing funder open access requirements, such as the Tri-Agency Open Access Policy

Selected resources

OSTP Memorandum (2022).  Ensuring Free, Immediate, and Equitable Access to Federally Funded Research

OSTP Report (2022). Economic Landscape of Federal Public Access Policy

OSTP Memorandum (2013). Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Scientific Research

National Institutes of Health (NIH) (n.d.) NIH Public Access Policy Details


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