Amid requests for open access to federally funded research, the White House issued a memo Friday calling on agencies to develop better digital systems for managing research data.
In the memo, White House senior advisor, John Holdren, emphasized the need to widen to the research conducted by federal agencies by making them freely available within 12 months of their publication. The move is a result of the debate by the scientific community, which insists that since the funds for such research comes from the tax payers of America, every person should be allowed to have access to them for whatever purpose they like.
"We wanted to strike the balance between the extraordinary public benefit of increasing public access to the results of federally-funded scientific research and the need to ensure that the valuable contributions that the scientific publishing industry provides are not lost," Holdren wrote in his response to the online petition. "This policy reflects that balance, and it also provides the flexibility to make changes in the future based on experience and evidence."
The petition garnered 65,704 signatures and it was only a matter of time that the White House responded to it.
The new openness policy would apply to agencies that have more than $100 million in research and development expenditures. The agencies will now be required to craft a plan to open their research data to the general public within six months and those plans with then be examined by the White House.
"The OSTP takes a fair path that would enhance access for the public, acknowledge differences among agencies and scientific disciplines and recognize the critical role publishers play in vetting, producing, establishing and preserving the integrity of scientific works," Tom Allen, chief executive of the Association of American Publishers, said in a statement.
However, like every new policy change by the White House, there are critics who believe that the 12 month time given to the agencies undermines the value of the research to the public.
"We are working on the cutting edge of the science. I want to read a new paper NOW, not in 1 year," Vittorio Saggiomo, a chemist at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, said.
The new bill, known as the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Art, is currently under consideration in Congress.