AAP Supports OSTP Policy Urging Collaboration in Public Access

Friday, 22 February 2013 |

Washington, DC; February 22, 2013 — The Association of American Publishers supports the Policy on Access to Research Outputs, released today by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), which outlines a reasonable, balanced resolution of issues around public access to research funded by federal agencies.

While a number of partnerships between publishers and specific agencies have been underway for several years with demonstrable results in access and government cost savings, the new OSTP guidelines open the door to a comprehensive, consistent strategy for collaboration.

As one of its core principles, the policy “recognizes that publishers provide valuable services…that are essential for ensuring the high quality and integrity of many scholarly publications. It is critical that these services continue to be made available.”

The plan then encourages across-the-board public-private partnerships and seeks to avoid unnecessary duplication of resources. Recognizing that different disciplines have different needs, it also sets a 12-month embargo timeline solely “as a guideline for making research papers publicly available,” while specifying that “an agency may tailor its plan as necessary…(based on needs) unique to each field.” It also requires a mechanism for stakeholders to petition for changes to embargoes by presenting evidence demonstrating the plan would be inconsistent (with the stated principles and objectives).”

“In stark contrast to angry rhetoric and unreasonable legislation offered by some, the OSTP takes a fair path that would enhance access for the public, acknowledge differences among agencies and scientific disciplines and recognize the critical role publishers play in vetting, producing, establishing and preserving the integrity of scientific works,” said Tom Allen, President and CEO, AAP.

“We support the OSTP’s compatible goals of broadening access while preserving the high-quality, peer-reviewed articles on which the science community and the public rely. The key to the success of the policy, however, depends on how the agencies use their flexibility to avoid negative impacts to the successful system of scholarly communication that advances science, technology and innovation.”

AAP is the leading trade association for the US publishing industry; its Professional and Scholarly Division represents 120 not-for-profit, commercial, university press and professional society publishing organizations.

The OSTP policy, the result of a deliberative process which included input from all stakeholders, offers a reasoned approach absent from the FASTR Act, the third attempt to introduce legislation that ignores realities of scientific communication.

Publishers have long supported the resolution of access policies through a balanced, collaborative multi-agency process. Publishers’ mission — the wide distribution of high-quality information and the integrity of the record of scientific research — is aligned with the objectives of the Obama Administration.

As the policy notes, forcing a one-size-fits-all access standard across disparate agencies and scientific disciplines is not viable to sustaining the high-caliber works that connect the scholarly community and drive research, development and new discoveries. OSTP’s policy, which directs agencies to develop independent access policies, is more effective.

Journal publishers’ continuing innovation and investments in content and distribution make them ideal partners for federal agencies in the fulfillment of the OSTP policy. For more than a decade, publishers have worked with agencies to find solutions, at little or no cost to the government, for improving how research results are communicated to the public. The OSTP policy orders that agencies must work within existing budgets to develop and maintain new systems for providing such access. Collaboration has the potential to reduce costs and reap benefits for the government, agencies and the public.

Publishers' filing with OSTP in response to its Request for Information regarding “Public Access to Peer Review Scholarly Publications Resulting from Federally Funded Research.”

AAP statement on FASTR Act and failed previous legislation