Applauding the White House Memorandum on Open Access

February 25, 2013

Posted by Alfred Spector, Vice President of Research and Special Initiatives

Last week the Obama Administration issued a Memorandum that could vastly increase the impact of federally funded research on innovation and the economy. Entrepreneurs, businesses, students, patients, researchers, and the public will soon have digital access to the wealth of research publications and data funded by Federal agencies. We're excited that this important work will be made more broadly accessible.

This memorandum directs federal agencies with annual research and development budgets of $100 million or more to open up access to the crucial results of publicly funded research (including both unclassified articles and data). These agencies will need to provide the public with free and unlimited online access to the results of that research after a guideline 12 month embargo period. Before last week only one agency, the National Institutes of Health, had a public research access policy.

The federal government funds tens of billions of dollars in research each year through agencies like the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and the Department of Energy. These investments are intended to advance science, accelerate innovation, grow our economy, and improve the lives of all Americans and members of the public. Opening this research up to the public will accelerate these goals.

Federal investment in research and development only pays off if it has an impact. Researchers, businesses, policymakers, entrepreneurs, and the public need to be able to access and use the knowledge contained in the articles and data generated by those funds. Making the results of scholarly research accessible and reusable in digital form is one important way to increase the impact of existing taxpayer investments.