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Federal agencies and publishers are beginning to make some research freely available
August 3, 2015 | Emily Conover
As the clamor for open access to scientific research has intensified in recent years, a group of scientific publishers — of which APS is a member — responded in 2013 by creating the Clearinghouse for the Open Research of the United States (CHORUS), which connects users with publicly accessible research on publishers’ websites. Now, APS is releasing the first wave of articles, making papers funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) freely available through CHORUS effective August 1, several months ahead of the department’s official October 1 start date.
In February 2013, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued a memo requiring federal agencies that spend more than $100 million on R&D to fashion plans that would make published research freely available to the public within a one-year embargo period after publication. The memo also called for public-private partnerships between agencies and scientific journals, to avoid duplication of effort. CHORUS takes on that role.
“Publishers are providing a service across the community to help agencies and researchers meet the OSTP mandate, but at the same time makes these papers publicly accessible in the context of the peer-reviewed journals in which they were published,” says APS Chief Information Officer Mark Doyle, co-chair of the technical working group for CHORUS.
One year ago, DOE unveiled their response to the OSTP memo, a website called the Public Access Gateway for Energy and Science (PAGES). PAGES is a searchable database that links to DOE-funded research available on publishers’ websites, or if none is available, to a version in DOE’s repository.
CHORUS provides a portal that allows users to search for federally funded open-access research across the participating publishers and scientific societies, which include APS, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, AIP Publishing (the journal publishing arm of the American Institute of Physics), the American Astronomical Society, Elsevier, IOP Publishing (part of the Institute of Physics), and others. CHORUS also provides a set of tools that show publishers’ progress in making research publicly accessible.
DOE will work with CHORUS to fulfill the OSTP mandate, according to an agreement made last spring. As part of CHORUS, publishers submit funding information and other metadata to CrossRef, a nonprofit that catalogs information about academic publications, provides Digital Object Identifier (DOI) registration, and allows reliable linking in citations across journals. PAGES can then use CrossRef to link to content on publishers’ websites and access articles funded by DOE.
On August 1, APS will begin releasing papers that were published one year ago, and from then on about 150 to 200 articles will be released each month as their embargoes expire. This is around 10% of the average number of articles APS publishes monthly. In January 2016, articles funded by other federal agencies will begin to become available. However, the available version of the article may not be its “version of record,” or the final version that will appear in the journal. Instead, the articles may be provided in the “accepted manuscript” state—before copyediting and formatting have taken place.
In another open access development, Senate bill S.779 “The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research (FASTR) Act” has made it one step closer to becoming law, after approval by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on July 29. The bill has similar provisions to the White House memo, but, if passed, would codify the requirements into law. The bill will next be considered by the full Senate. The House version of the bill has not yet been passed by its committee.