Public Access to Publicly Funded Research – Be Heard at the White House

I’m cross-posting this from everyone, the community blog of PLoS ONE, who are asking all those with an interest to involve themselves in this initiative from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, (OSTP), who state the following:

Yesterday we announced the launch of the Public Access Forum, sponsored by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.  Beginning with today’s post, we look forward to a productive online discussion.

One of our nation’s most important assets is the trove of data produced by federally funded scientists and published in scholarly journals. The question that this Forum will address is: To what extent and under what circumstances should such research articles—funded by taxpayers but with value added by scholarly publishers—be made freely available on the Internet?

The Forum is set to run through Jan. 7, 2010, during which time we will focus sequentially on three broad themes (you can access the full schedule here). In the first phase of this forum (Dec. 10th-20th) we want to focus on the topic of Implementation.

You’ll need to read the rest of the linked page for further clarification – the first stage, Implementation, ends on December 20th, 2009, and here’s what PLoS ONE are advising:

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has invited comment on broadening public access to publicly funded research and they want to hear from you. Please post your contributions to this blog.

Their Request for Information (RFI) lasts for just 30 days and expires on 7 January 2010, so we’d like to encourage you to get involved sooner rather than later. This is an opportunity for us to shape a broader public access policy – how it should be implemented, what type of technology and features are needed, and how to manage the process.

Adding your thoughts to the blog will help ensure that the administration form a balanced (the comment thread is moderated) view of stakeholders’ interest. E-mail comments will also be accepted and will be posted to the blog by the moderators.

There are 3 main topics where the administration would appreciate your input (they also welcome general comments) and each one is open for a set period of time:

1. Implementation – expires 20 December 2009. Which Federal agencies are good candidates to adopt Public Access policies? What variables (field of science, proportion of research funded by public or private entities, etc.) should affect how public access is implemented at various agencies, including the maximum length of time between publication and public release?

2. Features and Technology – 21-31 December 2009. In what format should the 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?

3. Management – 1-7 January 2010. What are the best mechanisms to ensure compliance? What would be the best metrics of success? What are the best examples of usability in the private sector (both domestic and international)? Should those who access papers be given the opportunity to comment or provide feedback?

Thanks for supporting this initiative.

I’m not sure whether this is a project in which only those with US citizenship can participate, bearing in mind that this concerns the question of whether US taxpayers should be entitled to free Web access to published material which they have funded, but I imagine that whatever measures are eventually put in place, their influence on the rest of the world will be soon be apparent. In any case, I daresay input of opinion (via the OSTP comments section) from a global audience can only help to more clearly define the way ahead.

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