The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) unveiled a plan March 18 that would require researchers to make publications pertaining to NSF-funded research freely and publicly available within 12 months of their initial publication. The requirement will apply to all projects whose proposals are submitted after the agency issues its Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide in January 2016.
The change is outlined in the NSF’s new public access plan, titled “Today’s Data, Tomorrow’s Discoveries.”
In a March 18 announcement, NSF states that “public access is intended to accelerate the dissemination of fundamental research results that will advance the frontiers of knowledge and help ensure the nation’s future prosperity.”
A short summary of relevant language in the NSF plan, provided on NSF’s site, says:
NSF will require that either the version of record or the final accepted manuscript in peer-reviewed scholarly journals and papers in juried conference proceedings or transactions must:
Be deposited in a public access compliant repository designated by NSF;
Be available for download, reading and analysis free of charge no later than 12 months after initial publication;
Possess a minimum set of machine-readable metadata elements in a metadata record to be made available free of charge upon initial publication;
Be managed to ensure long-term preservation; and
Be reported in annual and final reports during the period of the award with a persistent identifier that provides links to the full text of the publication as well as other metadata elements.
NSF announced that it was beginning work on the public access policy in February 2013, after the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy issued a memo on open access policy for federally-funded scientific research.
At this point, it is not clear whether NSF will provide researchers with additional funding under its grants to support publication of research findings in open-access journals.
UPDATE: I had a couple questions for NSF, and received responses from an NSF spokesperson March 19. See below.
Communication Breakdown: Is NSF considering whether to provide additional funding under its grants for researchers to publish in open-access journals?
NSF: NSF respects the autonomy of the researchers to publish in the most appropriate venue. NSF already allows proposers to request funds for the “cost of documenting, preparing, publishing or otherwise making available to others the findings and products of the work conducted under the grant.” See section 3.3 of the plan.
CB: What was NSF’s previous policy (if any) on making NSF-funded research publicly available?
NSF: NSF’s policies currently state (see PAPPG):
4. Dissemination and Sharing of Research Results
a. Investigators are expected to promptly prepare and submit for publication, with authorship that accurately reflects the contributions of those involved, all significant findings from work conducted under NSF grants. Grantees are expected to permit and encourage such publication by those actually performing that work, unless a grantee intends to publish or disseminate such findings itself.
b. Investigators are expected to share with other researchers, at no more than incremental cost and within a reasonable time, the primary data, samples, physical collections and other supporting materials created or gathered in the course of work under NSF grants. Grantees are expected to encourage and facilitate such sharing. Privileged or confidential information should be released only in a form that protects the privacy of individuals and subjects involved. General adjustments and, where essential, exceptions to this sharing expectation may be specified by the funding NSF Program or Division/Office for a particular field or discipline to safeguard the rights of individuals and subjects, the validity of results, or the integrity of collections or to accommodate the legitimate interest of investigators. A grantee or investigator also may request a particular adjustment or exception from the cognizant NSF Program Officer.
c. Investigators and grantees are encouraged to share software and inventions created under the grant or otherwise make them or their products widely available and usable.
d. NSF normally allows grantees to retain principal legal rights to intellectual property developed under NSF grants to provide incentives for development and dissemination of inventions, software and publications that can enhance their usefulness, accessibility and upkeep. Such incentives do not, however, reduce the responsibility that investigators and organizations have as members of the scientific and engineering community, to make results, data and collections available to other researchers.
e. NSF program management will implement these policies for dissemination and sharing of research results, in a way appropriate to field and circumstances, through the proposal review process; through award negotiations and conditions; and through appropriate support and incentives for data cleanup, documentation, dissemination, storage and the like.