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In 2013, a memo from then-head of the Office of Science and Technology Policy John Holdren directed federal agencies to come up with a plan to make all the research they fund freely available to the public within 12 months of publication. Today (August 25), the current acting head of the same office, Alondra Nelson, released a memo that goes a step further, mandating that agencies ensure their research is available in publicly accessible repositories immediately on publication, by December 31, 2025 at the latest. The memo also directs that the scientific data behind these papers “should be made freely available and publicly accessible by default at the time of publication.” 

“When research is widely available to other researchers and the public, it can save lives, provide policymakers with the tools to make critical decisions, and drive more equitable outcomes across every sector of society,” Nelson says in a White House news release. “The American people fund tens of billions of dollars of cutting-edge research annually. There should be no delay or barrier between the American public and the returns on their investments in research.” 

See “As Plan S Takes Effect, Some Anticipate Inequitable Outcomes

“This is an enormous leap forward,” Heather Joseph, executive director of the open-access advocacy organization SPARC, says in a statement. “For the first time, everyone will have free and immediate access to the results of all federally funded research to speed solutions for global challenges—from cancer to climate change.”

“For decades US #openaccess policy has been dominated by publisher lobbying, w/ ‘compromises’ like the 12 month embargo that were pure sellouts of the public interest,” writes Michael Eisen, a computational biologist and editor-in-chief of the open-access journal eLife, in a tweet. “No more. The best thing I can say about this new policy is that publishers will hate it.”