At the start of 2020, the US Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) convened a series of meetings with stakeholder groups to conduct an open dialogue on the issues around providing public access to the output of federally funded research. The American Institute of Physics, through its Chief Executive Officer, Michael Moloney, was pleased to participate in a Society Publisher meeting with OSTP in February.
Concurrently, OSTP issued an open request for information: Public Access to Peer-Reviewed Scholarly Publications, Data and Code Resulting From Federally Funded Research. The RFI asked the scholarly community for input on several key questions:
- What current limitations exist to the effective communication of research outputs (publications, data, and code) and how might communications evolve to accelerate public access while advancing the quality of scientific research? What are the barriers to and opportunities for change?
- What more can Federal agencies do to make tax-payer funded research results, including peer-reviewed author manuscripts, data, and code funded by the Federal Government, freely and publicly accessible in a way that minimizes delay, maximizes access, and enhances usability? How can the Federal Government engage with other sectors to achieve these goals?
- How would American science leadership and American competitiveness benefit from immediate access to these resources? What are potential challenges and effective approaches for overcoming them?
Because scholarly publishing is evolving, and because of our leadership position as a mission-driven society publisher, we decided that it was our duty to submit a response to the OSTP RFI. Our response includes perspectives on how the scholarly publishing community can move toward an open science ecosystem in a measured and sustainable way. Some key points we asked OSTP to consider include:
- To accelerate open science, researchers need to be incentivized to publish open access and to share their data. Changes to the academic assessment system may be required.
- Publishers make significant investments in validating research through peer review and making it discoverable and available in perpetuity. Focusing on making the peer-reviewed manuscript publicly accessible unreasonably ignores the intellectual property and investment the publisher has made into the peer-reviewed author accepted manuscript and the final published version of record (VOR).
- Preprints (such as those on the arXiv preprint server) provide immediate access to research results while supporting peer-reviewed journals to fulfill their role of registration, certification, dissemination, and preservation. We encourage OSTP to consider asking Federal agencies to require the deposition of preprints of federally funded research to an appropriate repository as an alternative to making the VOR open without an embargo.
- There is a role for publishers and scholarly societies to work with funders to develop standards for data and code, and to develop interoperable systems and processes for storing, sharing and finding data.
The response from AIP Publishing can be read here.
AIP Publishing embraces continued evolution and innovation in scholarly publishing. We support strategies, initiatives and partnerships that progress open science, and we do this in support of our mission to accelerate science and serve scientists for the benefit of humanity.
The OSTP process is scheduled to conclude this summer and we’ll keep you posted of developments.