The White House is taking steps to make taxpayer-funded research available immediately

The Biden administration’s new policy states that the results of publicly supported studies must be released immediately. Proponents say it will save lives and improve medical research, but editors have concerns.

President Biden’s administration is making publicly funded research available to the public and working to make it more quickly available to the public.

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy issued a new policy “to make the results of taxpayer-funded research immediately available to the American public at no cost.”

Often, scientific and medical journals embargo studies for up to a year. Scientific journal articles are routinely behind paywalls, which patient advocates say prevents them from getting the latest information.

The directive could save lives and, at a minimum, provide the public with more timely research data, said Alondra Nelson, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

“When research is widely accessible to other researchers and the public, it can save lives, provide policymakers with the tools to make critical decisions, and generate more equitable outcomes across all sectors of society,” Nelson said. in a press release.

“The American people fund tens of billions of dollars in cutting-edge research each year,” Nelson said. “There should be no delays or barriers between the American public and the return on their research investments.”

Politics will not happen overnight. The Office of Science and Technology Policy is asking federal agencies to update their open access and data-sharing plans by mid-2023. The White House has said it expects the policy is fully in place by 2026.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science, which publishes Science and other journals, said it has long supported equitable access. The association said it has long provided free, instant access to “all research of immediate public health interest”.

AAAS says it looks forward to working with the White House to ensure access to scientific publications, and the association said it is exploring ways to allow immediate access to manuscripts.

“While many early reports signal that OSTP guidance to federal agencies will have a substantial impact on scholarly publishers, we believe it is too early to tell whether these guidance will have an impact on our journals,” said AAAS in a statement.

Shelly Husband, senior vice president of government affairs for the Association of American Publishers, released a statement criticizing the new policy. She said the policy “comes with formal and meaningful public consultation or input during this administration on a decision that will have far-reaching ramifications, including serious economic impact.”

“In an embargo-free environment, in which private publications will be immediately made available free of charge by the government, our primary concerns are with sustainability and business quality,” Husband said. The publishing group said it would work with the White House and Congress on the issue.

The White House said the new policy was developed with input from multiple federal agencies over the past year.

Supporters of more open access to medical and scientific research applauded the new White House policy.

The Open Research Funders Group, an advocacy group for the free sharing of scientific research, said it embraces the Biden administration’s new policy, calling it a “great victory” for equity and open science.

Johan Rooryck, executive director of cOAlition S, a group of research organizations that has pushed for more open access, called the policy a “game changer for scholarly publishing”.

Proponents also say it’s a hurdle for researchers who must access dozens of journal articles to advance their own studies.

In its announcement, the White House quoted Biden’s remarks when he was vice president, during a 2016 speech to the American Association for Cancer Research. Biden noted the billions in federal research funds aimed at curing diseases and said, “Once it gets out, almost all of this taxpayer-funded research sits behind walls. Tell me how it makes the process go faster. »

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