Minimizing Disclosure Risk in HHS Open Data Initiatives. 1. Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Scientific Research


This memorandum, issued on February 22, 2013 by the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and directed to the heads of executive departments and agencies, calls for all federal agencies that are engaged in research and development to outline plans to provide public access to all results of scientific projects that are receiving federal funds. These plans were to be submitted to OSTP for review within six months of the publication of this memorandum. Plans must contain strategies addressing the following concerns: fostering public-private partnerships with scientific journals; improving access to digital data; optimizing archival and search features; plans for notifying federally funded researchers of their obligations; measurement and potential enforcement of compliance; identification of resources for implementation of the plan; and identification of circumstances that may exempt agency participation. OSTP further outlines specific objectives in increasing access to scientific publications as well as scientific data.

Regarding scientific publications, OSTP requests that agencies ensure that the public can access final manuscripts in digital form, following a 12-month publication embargo as a guideline. OSTP also asks agencies to facilitate public search and analysis of peer-reviewed scholarly work and to ensure public access to publications’ metadata. In addition, agencies must encourage public-private collaboration, maintain accurate attribution to original authors, and provide archival solutions to storing metadata and publications that are publicly accessible.

With respect to scientific data, OSTP requires that agencies maximize free public access to digitally formatted data created with federal funds, while protecting privacy and proprietary information. This involves requesting that grant recipients outline data management plans and detail any reasons why their data cannot be made publicly accessible. OSTP also requests that agencies allow for the inclusion of appropriate costs associated with data management and access in Federal grant proposals.

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