Open Access Week reminds us to thank a librarian and get up to speed on changes to policy impacting public access to research data
International Open Access Week, which runs Oct. 24 to 30, is an opportunity for the research community at UW–Madison and its peer institutions to learn about the potential benefits of open access, including helping to inspire wider participation in more equitable knowledge sharing.
That includes recent news that effective for applications starting Jan. 25, 2023, and after, all NIH-supported researchers producing scientific data will be expected to submit a data management & sharing plan as part of their proposals under the Data Management and Sharing (DMS) Policy.
Another new federal policy that will take effect in 2025, known as the Nelson memo, is an update to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s (OSTP) 2013 public access to publications memorandum (2013 OSTP Memorandum on Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Research) and is meant to help address roadblocks to access and ensure free, immediate and equitable access to results from federally-funded research.
But Open Access Week is also a reminder of the important work research librarians do by providing researchers with tools and resources that support their scholarly efforts, along with creating innovative ways to streamline the public access compliance process.
“Libraries are a key part of the infrastructure for access to information, through their collections. But our libraries also play a central role in the research lifecycle by offering support that includes planning, collecting and storing data, analyzing and visualizing data, publishing research findings, and closing out the findings,” says Lisa Carter, vice provost for libraries and university librarian. “Our team of experts plays a critical role in supporting campus researchers with federally funded scholarship to successfully navigate changing research policies.”
In fact, providing public access to federally funded research has support from the UW Libraries through the efforts of individuals on campus such as Carrie Nelson, head of scholarly communication, who helps researchers evaluate and navigate publisher agreements, and several offices. The Public Access Service helps researchers and research staff navigate legal requirements for submitting manuscripts to funders. The Research Data Services team directed by Cameron Cook, data and digital scholarship manager, helps connect researchers with data and digital scholarship support on campus including connecting users to various repositories, providing education about data management planning and more.
“We are grateful to all of the UW Libraries staff for their expertise in information science, from supporting complex, academic queries to helping ensure research requirements are met in an everchanging regulatory landscape,” says Steve Ackerman, vice chancellor for research and graduate education. “The role our libraries play in the success of our research enterprise, across all disciplines, is of vital importance and we consider them highly respected and indispensable partners in the research process and in growing open access, which is gaining momentum both with federal funding agencies and the public.”
If you’ve ever bumped up against a paywall in your effort to read a news story or to gather information online, for example, you know the frustration of having something you are looking for just out of reach. For some, access to research results and supporting data is also out of reach because of paywalls.
“The latest federal policy change (the Nelson memo) supports the public’s right to take part in the science that it is funding by giving all of us unhindered access to research results,” explains Ryan Schryver, public access compliance lead for the UW–Madison Public Access Service. “This is especially important for those researchers unable to pay rising costs associated with publishing open access articles, such as students and early-stage investigators and the guidance allows researchers to include publication and certain data sharing costs in their research budget proposals. It’s an example of a change, though, that can lead to researchers having to spend time and effort away from their research, to try to tease out details for how the policy change impacts them. That’s where Libraries staff can come in to help. ”
Schryver explains that the 2022 revision to the 2013 OSTP Memorandum on Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Research, removes the optional 12-month embargo period that journals and publishers could previously request before the full text of a scholarly work impacted by the policy would be made publicly accessible. This revision also ensures public access to the data associated with those scholarly works by making data published in peer-reviewed research articles immediately available upon publication and other research data available within a reasonable timeframe.
“I believe these changes to the 2013 policy will not only remove the nagging issue of paywalls preventing research from becoming accessible as quickly as possible, but they will likely instigate changes to the way publishers deal with open access in a manner similar to the way the 2013 memo helped initiate change,” Schryver says.
The UW–Madison Public Access Service has compiled a policy brief (https://pas.wisc.edu/ostp-issues-new-public-access-guidance-to-federal-agencies) to help the campus community understand the upcoming changes.
Since the 2013 memorandum, every federal agency subject to the 2013 Memorandum has developed and implemented a public access policy in accordance with its guidance. As a result, the American public has experienced great benefits: more than 8 million scholarly publications have become accessible to the public. Over 3 million people read these articles for free every day.
Visit the UW Libraries’ research support page to learn more about research resources.
Natasha Kassulke, firstname.lastname@example.org, 608-219-8042