[Open Access Week 2022 special] How the US OSTP policy could transform academia: A cross-section of expert views

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[Open Access Week 2022 special] How the US OSTP policy could transform academia: A cross-section of expert views

On August 25, 2022, the US Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released a memorandum titled “Ensuring Free, Immediate, and Equitable Access to Federally Funded Research.”1 According to this memo, all taxpayer funded scholarly research and underlying raw data funded by US federal institutes or agencies would be publicly accessible by 2026 without any paywall or embargo period.

This is a huge step toward embracing open access and can have a long-lasting impact on scientific communication and research accessibility. With the US government being one of the world’s biggest funders of research, the new OSTP policy has sparked widespread reactions globally. We reached out to stakeholders in the research ecosystem for their views on how the new policy could affect academia. Here’s what they had to say.


Ashley Farley, Program Officer, Knowledge and Research Services, Gates Foundation

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To me, the OSTP Public Access Memo is a strong step forward in removing barriers in access and reuse of knowledge. However, it's important to ensure this does not end up being a misstep - leading to further entrenchment of the negative aspects of academic publishing: high prices, exclusion, prioritization of prestige, and reliance on faulty metrics. This is an opportunity to implement policy that leads with equity and places authors back in power. Knowledge should be returned to the control of the global research community. Rights Retention and ability to share articles as one sees fit will become central to the conversation. I hope to see bold implementation of the mandate: less reliance on the publisher's version, author's retaining rights, and equity in research participation– both in the ability to read and be read. I am excited to see the United States is joining the global open movement.


Richard Wynne, Strategic Advisor, CACTUS

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The OSTP mandate will further accelerate the shift to article processing charges (APCs) and Transformative Agreements (TAs), away from subscription fees as the source of journal funding. For better or for worse, the funding model transformation will be coupled with a shift away from a reader-centric culture to an author-centric approach. Organizations that have spent decades focused on serving readers will be driven by the necessity to think harder about how to serve authors. The skills and sensibilities that historically made a “good publisher” at an individual and organizational level are in flux.


Dawn J. Wright, Chief Scientist of the Environmental Systems Research Institute (aka Esri) and Professor of Geography and Oceanography, Oregon State University

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I love this quote by Matthias Fromm of Open Science Radio: “Give a scientist a tool, and you feed science for a day. Teach a scientist to be open, and you feed science for a lifetime.” I believe this applies not only to individuals but to governments, which is why the latest guidance from the White House Office of Science Technology & Policy to make federally funded research freely available without delay, could indeed be a gamechanger in a number of ways. One hope is that this will end a loophole that has allowed journals to put research articles behind a paywall for up to a year. And the directive for the material not only to be formatted in a way that is machine-readable, but for the underlying scientific data to be made public more quickly (save for legal, ethical, or security problems) will also be a boon to organizations such as mine, as we tirelessly seek to “democratize” data. Indeed, I am seeing this through the lens of democracy as well as climate, racial, and environmental justice, where such federal research will be needed to bolster efforts such as the emerging Ocean Justice Forum (www.oceanjusticeforum.info).  


Marisha Rodrigues, Senior Writer, Impact Science, CACTUS

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Although the future can’t be predicted with certainty, we can be sure that the OSTP mandate will be a catalyst for all kinds of changes in academic publishing. It can open up new opportunities and avenues for different stakeholders in the research ecosystem, be they authors, scholarly societies, academic publishers, or technology partners. New players could enter the system, new technologies could be developed in response to new needs, and new power structures could emerge. Further, the impact of this mandate will be felt beyond the US, considering the prominent role of the US in the world’s research output. All in all, the OSTP mandate will likely have a far-reaching impact and shape scholarly publishing for years to come.


Ruchi Chauhan, Global Head of Marketing, CACTUS

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Open research brings transparency and benefits to the larger community. I have worked closely with researchers around the world and strongly feel that we as a community need to work together to solve “how” with researchers. Most high-impact journals charge exorbitant APCs which only well-funded researchers can probably afford, but the majority of researchers struggles to find funds for APCs. Therefore, it’s their paying capacity which decides home for their research rather than the quality of research. OSTP public access memo is a welcome step in the right direction, but its implementation needs several measures to ensure that a larger community of researchers is supported and not excluded.



1. Office of Science and Technology Policy. Ensuring Free, Immediate, and Equitable Access to Federally Funded Research. https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/08-2022-OSTP-Public-Access-Memo.pdf (2022).



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Published on: Oct 27, 2022


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