The Obama administration announced on Friday a major new policy aimed at increasing public access to federally financed research. The policy, delivered in a memorandum from John P. Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, applies to federal agencies that spend more than $100-million a year to support research and development.
In the memo, Mr. Holdren directed those agencies to develop "clear and coordinated policies" to make the results of research they support publicly available within a year of publication. The new policy also requires scientific data from unclassified, federally supported research to be made available to the public "to search, retrieve, and analyze." Affected agencies have six months to decide how to carry out the policy. ...
It was clear that a number of federal agencies already had preparations under way for how they would observe the new policy. For instance, the National Science Foundation immediately sent out a statement affirming its commitment to the principle of public access, saying it had already established a timetable for consultation and planning. It noted that the "implementation details" were likely to vary by discipline "and that new business models for universities, libraries, publishers, and scholarly and professional societies could emerge."
Friday's announcement capped a lengthy process of consultation with various stakeholders that sought public input on access to federally financed research and data. More than 65,000 people have signed a petition on the White House's We the People Web site calling for free online access to scientific-journal articles based on taxpayer-supported research.
My only beef is that the policy is too limited. I don't know what sort of data might still be private, but why limit this to agencies that spend more than $100 million a year?