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Editorial Snapshot: The White House gives a helping hand to open science

- C.C., Editor

On August 25, 2022, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) announced new guidance for federal agencies with more than $100 million in annual research and development expenditures, calling for the elimination of the previous optional 12-month embargo for federally funded peer-reviewed studies. This guidance further builds upon the 2013 memorandum from the OSTP, and data published in federally funded peer-reviewed articles is now to be made immediately and freely available upon publication.

The wording of the new memorandum re-emphasizes the White House’s commitment to promoting equitable access to and delivery of impactful research, stating that the results of such research belong to the American public. It further cites the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, and emphasizes a commitment to strengthening public trust. While the document is lengthy, the message is clear: open and accessible science is of the utmost importance.

Commenting on this new memorandum, in an interview, the Oxford University Press (OUP) publishing director for open access and Asia journals, Rhodri Jackson, states that he believes this is part of an accelerating rush toward the open model of scholarly publishing that will benefit not only those in the United States, but researchers worldwide. He notes, however, that while this development is exciting, challenges such as the sustainability of this movement across various domains, remain.

It is well-known that academic publishing is big business, dominated by the top five publishing houses which account for 50-70% of all publications, and which see astronomical profit margins (see this 2015 analysis). This presents a daunting challenge for the progress of open science, but there is hope that with this new commitment of the American government apparatus to democratize science, and the advent of potential new technological solutions that may shake up the industry (look forward to future installments of this newsletter for details!), the future of open science will be bright.

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