Tuesday, December 15, 2009

White House solicits comments on Open Access

The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) of the White House in Washington is soliciting input on "Public Access to Federally Funded Research." What should the Executive branch policy be toward Open Access for research results? How should results get disseminated? Where should papers be posted? How should this work? There is a special OSTP blog set up to gather comments from researchers. The first stage of the process is to get input on Implementation (Dec 10 - 20); later stages will gather feedback on other aspects of the process.

I've put in my two cents. If you feel strongly about this, you should comment too. These are my comments (organized by the specific questions posed):

Which federal agencies: All federal agencies that fund research should have mandatory deposit policies.

Timing and Version:
• For the author’s final peer-reviewed manuscript: Deposit this immediately upon publication. As Stevan Harnad has pointed out many times, this version has the fewest legal barriers and will thus be the easiest to implement quickly.

• The publisher’s pdf: Deposit this after the publisher’s embargo period. Pressure should be brought to bear on publishers to reduce, or eliminate, embargos. But it is much more important to get a policy implemented quickly, and to have papers deposited in a timely fashion, than to get the pdf filed.

Locus: Deposit should be in the institutional repository of the author’s home institution. There are too many disciplines to use central repositories (particularly for the social sciences and humanities), and not all research is federally funded.

Mandatory: Yes, deposit should be mandatory, by both the funder and also by each university or sponsoring institution.

I now have two reasons to respect the White House on intellectual and professional grounds (apart from views about the President himself): (1) The OSTP blog on Open Access policies, and (2) the presence of Xavier de Souza Briggs in the White House Office of Management and Budget. Briggs is a major scholar of urban planning, focusing on housing and segregation, with a comparative interest in ancient cities (Briggs 2004 compares ancient Rome, medieval Cordoba, and modern Los Angeles in terms of cultural diversity). The OMB blog has some information on Briggs, who was recently awarded tenure at MIT.

Briggs, Xavier de Souza
2004 Civilization in Color: The Multicultural City in Three Millennia. City and Community 3:311-342.

No comments: