White House Sets Definition for Open Science to ‘Galvanize’ Federal Efforts

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The Biden administration announced a number of initiatives to improve open science policies in 2023, including advancing efforts to make taxpayer-funded research publicly accessible.

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy on Wednesday announced a series of actions to advance open science policies across the federal government in 2023, including crafting an official definition of open science for use across agencies. 

The new definition, released by OSTP and the National Science and Technology Council, defines open science as “the principle and practice of making research products and processes available to all, while respecting diverse cultures, maintaining security and privacy, and fostering collaborations, reproducibility and equity.” 

The White House said in an announcement that the new unified definition “will galvanize federal efforts, promote interagency collaboration and drive progress.”

As part of its focus on promoting open science policies across government, the White House and OSTP are also continuing to advance efforts to make federally-funded research free and accessible for public use. 

OSTP previously released a memo in August 2022 directing federal agencies to “update their public access policies” by Dec. 31, 2025, “to make publications and their supporting data resulting from federally funded research publicly accessible without an embargo on their free and public release.” Under the new policy, all federal agencies will be required to publicly release their findings, and agencies cannot impose the previously available 12-month embargo on the public release of their research. 

The new guidance supersedes a 2013 OSTP memo that only directed agencies “with over $100 million in annual conduct of research and development expenditures to develop a plan to support increased public access to the results of research funded by the federal government,” and also allowed covered agencies to impose up to a year-long embargo on public access to their research.

The White House said in Wednesday’s announcement that it will require federal agencies to submit updates on their new public access policies to OSTP and the Office of Management and Budget throughout 2023. Agencies with more than $100 million in annual research and development expenditures will be required to submit their plans by Feb. 22; those agencies with smaller expenditures will have until Dec. 31 to present plans for their new policies. 

In addition to advancing efforts to make taxpayer-funded research more accessible, OSTP announced a series of other actions from the Biden administration to promote open science and open research principles across the federal government.

These include several initiatives set to launch later this month, such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Transform to Open Science plan that will feature “new curricula in open science for students, researchers and the public, as well as robust engagement with people and groups that have been historically underrepresented in science.” 

OSTP also said that the Energy Department plans to introduce “a host of new advances and services to improve the open science capabilities” of its public-facing scientific library in 2023, and that the Agriculture Department plans to improve access to the National Agricultural Library by “launching a new web page in February that helps researchers to share, and the public to find and access, USDA-funded research.”

The new initiatives come as OSTP kicks off a ‘Year of Open Science’ effort to “advance national open science policy, provide access to the results of the nation’s taxpayer-supported research, accelerate discovery and innovation, promote public trust and drive more equitable outcomes.”