New White House OSTP memo requires federally funded research be immediately open  

Sep 07, 2022 · Abbey Elder and Megan O’Donnell 

On August 25, 2022, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) announced updated guidance to require all federally funded research be made available to the public freely and immediately upon its publication.  

The effort to improve public access to research is a worldwide phenomenon. As Creative Commons shared in a blog post about the memo, OSTP policy “brings the U.S. Government in line with other governments who have established Open Access policies and principles to ensure their public investments support the public good.” Furthermore, it builds on an existing U.S. policy which has been in place for nearly a decade. 

In February 2013, the OSTP issued a memo (PDF) which set new requirements for all federal agencies with more than $100 million in research and development (R&D) expenditures to develop plans to make federally funded research available to the public. These requirements triggered policy changes and innovation across most scholarly and research sectors.  

While the 2013 memo was revolutionary, it included limits on what was shared and when. For example, publications were allowed a 12-month embargo period before they needed to be made publicly available. The limitations regarding data were more vague stating that data had to be shared publicly in a “timely manner” and only the data that supported a publication were required to be shared.  

The new OSTP memo, “Ensuring Free, Immediate, and Equitable Access to Federally Funded Research,” contains three important updates: 

  1. All federal agencies, regardless of the level of R&D expenditures, will be required to implement public access plans. Agencies that were once exempt will draft public access plans before the end of 2023.   
  1. Publication embargos will no longer be allowed. Many journals will have to revise their policies and researchers should expect stricter requirements for research data to be available during peer-review and to be published with articles. 
  1. “Approaches and timelines” for sharing federally funded scientific data that are not associated with peer-reviewed scholarly publications will be developed. This change broadens the minimum data sharing expectations from “data that validates research findings” to “data produced by federal funded research.” The full impact of this change is hard to gauge, but researchers should expect to have to share larger, more complete data, as part of their grant closeout process.   

As a land-grant institution, Iowa State University is committed to disseminating information widely for the good of people everywhere. This change in policy compliments our mission and is substantiated by the library’s DataShare, Digital Press and institutional Digital Repository. The University Library is not only excited to continue to support our researchers as they openly share and provide increased access to their work, but to explore ways we can build upon this foundation in the future. 

For more information about how the University Library supports open access, visit the Open Scholarship Services website.