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National Science Foundation Collaborates with Federal Partners to Plan for Comprehensive Public Access to Research Results


Today, the National Science Foundation (NSF), along with federal partners, announced its commitment to expand public access to the results of its funded research. 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.

This announcement follows a memorandum issued from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy directing science-funding agencies to develop plans to increase access to the results of federally funded research and improve the management of digital data produced through such research.

“Scientific progress depends on the responsible communication of research findings, and NSF has been engaged in efforts to expand public access for several years,” said NSF Director Subra Suresh. “Full public access will require changes in policies, procedures and practices from the many stakeholders who participate in NSF’s broad research portfolio spanning all scientific and engineering disciplines. We stand with our federal science colleagues, as well as our non-governmental partners, to collaborate in accomplishing this transition on behalf of science and our nation’s future.”

“The logic behind enhanced public access is plain. We know that scientific research supported by the federal government spurs scientific breakthroughs and economic advances when research results are made available to innovators,” said White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Director John P. Holdren. “Policies that mobilize these intellectual assets for re-use through broader access can accelerate scientific breakthroughs, increase innovation, and promote economic growth.”

“The National Science Board, as the policy making body for the National Science Foundation, endorses the agency’s commitment to public access and looks forward to working with its colleagues and stakeholder communities to support and broaden the availability of federally-funded research data and results,” said National Science Board (NSB) Chairman Dan Arvizu. “The NSB understands the importance to the American people that public access brings to the taxpayer and the scholarly community, and that progress in science accelerates when researchers share and build on each other’s results.”

Quotes from federal partners:

“Collaboration, transparency and open access to scientific findings accelerate discovery and innovation,” said Director of DOE’s Office of Science Bill Brinkman. “The Department of Energy has been working for years with our colleagues in other science agencies and our stakeholders to advance open access. So we fully support the goals of the OSTP memorandum and will work quickly to develop and implement policies and procedures so that peer-reviewed journal articles funded by the Office of Science are available to the public.”

“Publicly funded agricultural research is essential to finding the solutions needed to meet the challenges of providing food, fiber and fuel to an increasing global population, and improved access to these publicly funded research findings enhances our efforts,” said Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics at U.S. Department Agriculture, Catherine Woteki. “USDA already makes much of its research available and transparent today, and we look forward to working with the wide range of scientists in the many disciplines and institutions that contribute to our work, to make these policies effective and beneficial to all.”

“NASA welcomes this initiative to promote broader dissemination of our research results,” said Marc S. Allen, Acting Deputy Associate Administrator for Research at NASA. “We already make data from our space missions available in the public domain, so it’s a natural next step to make the exciting scientific results obtained from these data as available as possible to organizations and the public at large.”

“Innovation in our country is driven by scientific discovery,” said Under Secretary for Standards and Technology at the U.S. Department of Commerce, Pat Gallagher. “By making federal scientific research more broadly available we will help stimulate future innovation and economic growth.”

NSF Implementation:

With the breadth of NSF and other federal support across the scientific community, the implementation details for public access could vary by discipline, and new business models for universities, libraries, publishers, and scholarly and professional societies could emerge. Those details will emerge as NSF consults with its stakeholders and with other government agencies, and as it develops its plans. NSF has already laid out a tentative timeline for consultation, planning, systems development, and changes to its policies, which will be fine-tuned over the coming months.

“We expect our approach to evolve over time,” said Suresh. “This transition will result in innovative, cost-effective and sustainable approaches. With science becoming an increasingly global enterprise, we will also work with international science funding agencies through forums such as the Global Research Council to enable public access across borders.”

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2012, its budget is $7.0 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives over 50,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes about 11,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards nearly $420 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

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