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OSTP-Nelson Memo: What does it mean for SMHS researchers?

What is it?

The memo, titled “Guidance to Make Federally-Funded Research Freely Available Without Delay”—also known informally as the “OSTP-Nelson memo” or the “Public Access Memo” is a memorandum written by Dr. Alondra Nelson, Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). It was released in August of 2022 and provides guidelines to make federally funded research available to the public immediately and at no cost. The memo calls on all federal agencies to generate policies that eliminate the current 12-month waiting period for access to the outputs of federally funded research, including articles and data.

Why were the guidelines changed?

The new guidelines are about maximizing return on research investments for the taxpayer and public, but they will also benefit researchers. Compliance with the new guidelines will ultimately increase research equity and further establish integrity and trustworthiness of research. Timely sharing of research data will help the world meet the ever-growing challenges of the 21st century through access and reuse.

What is the timeline?

  • February 21, 2023 – Draft public access policies due for federal agencies with more than $100 million in annual research and development (R&D) expenditures.
  • August 20, 2023 – Draft public access policies due for federal agencies with less than $100 million in annual R&D expenditures.
  • December 31, 2024 – Final public access policies due. Agencies must publish their final policies addressing all requirements outlined in the memo. Policies will go into effect no later than 1 year after they’re published.
  • December 31, 2025 – New policies will be in effect no later than this date.

What should I do to prepare?

There are a few simple things individual researchers can do.

  1. Deposit your publications and supporting data in an open access repository at time of publication. UND has an institutional repository, the Scholarly Commons, where you can deposit acceptable forms of your scholarly articles. Make open access part of your publication workflow so that readers can access your work without paywall barriers.
  2. Store your data in an open data repository. When your data meet the FAIR Data Principles (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable), your data becomes part of the world’s data set and which will optimize the reuse of data to advance science.
  3. Use digital persistent identifiers (known as PIDs or DPIs) for all of your publications and data, and for your research identity. Check to make sure your publications and research data have been assigned a PID (such as a DOI or Handle) and link them from your ORCID, a unique and persistent identifier for researchers. If you don’t already have an ORCID, register for yours today. Here is more information about how ORCID supports institutions and researchers.
  4. Develop Data Management Plans (DMPs) as part of your project planning. To maximize the sharing of scientific data, best practices for research data now include a data management and sharing plan. Use the DMPTool to streamline this process.

Need more information?

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Featured image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay