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Scholarly Communication: Changing Federal Guidelines On Public Access

The Scholarly Communications committee provides Bucknell’s faculty scholars with customized information, education, and guidance as well as the technical resources and support services needed throughout all steps of the scholarly communications process.

Information on Changing Federal Policies


In 2022, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued a memorandum,  “Ensuring Free, Immediate, and Equitable Access to Federally Funded Research”, directing federal funding agencies to develop and implement new policies around public access of federally funded research. This policy builds upon a 2013 memorandum, “Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Scientific Research.”

Major Changes:

  • Removes the optional 12-month embargo on free public access to taxpayer-funded research.
  • Requires underlying data to be shared to machine-readable standards. Asks agencies to develop approaches and timelines for sharing other federally funded scientific data not associated with research publications.
  • Expands the scope of the current policy (the 2013 policy statement covered the 20 agencies with the largest funding budgets, this updated policy statement will cover all federal funding agencies).

Timeline for Policy Changes:

February 21, 2023: Agencies with more than $100 million in annual research and development (R&D) expenditures update existing policies and submit to OSTP and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). In line with their stated goal of transparency in this process, the NIH decided to open up their draft plan for public comment, with feedback due by April 24th, 2023

August 20, 2023: Agencies with with $100 million or less in annual research and development (R&D) expenditures draft public access policies and submit to OSTP and (OMB).

December 31, 2024: All agencies have completed and published updated policies.

December 31, 2025: All agencies have fully implemented updated policies.

Will this cost me?

While there is an open question of how this change will impact how the costs of publishing and hosting research and data are distributed, there is nothing in the memo that requires or encourages researchers to pay Article Processing Fees (APCs) or any other form of publication costs. Agency officials have indicated that they intend researchers to fulfill these requirements by depositing articles and underlying data in designated repositories.

Researchers may request funding to cover “reasonable publication costs” but no form of publication or business model is advocated for. A Frequently Asked Questions issued by the White House in December 2022 specifically states “Importantly, adherence to and implementation of the policy guidance in the 2022 Memorandum does not require expense on the part of the researcher.”

While memo itself does not advocate for any particular business or access model, the Ivy Plus Libraries have articulated concern that commercial publishers may have an outsized impact on the conversation on what Open and Public Access look like.

What Should I do Now?

  • We encourage you to submit your publications and your data in repositories when appropriate.
  • Use and share persistent identifiers for your work whenever possible.
    • This may include the article-level doi or the researcher-specific ORCID
  • Develop data management plans to ensure that you have processes in place for the lifecycle of your research data, including post-publication.