The White House by David Mark from Pixabay

In 2008, the U.S. introduced green open access for publications based on research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The law passed at the time required that all such publications be archived in the publicly accessible repository PubMedCentral no later than one year after publication. Since then, the U.S. Congress has repeatedly tried to legislate the same policy for other federal bodies, but without success. To break the logjam, the White House issued the Open Access to Publications and Data Directive in 2013, which applies to all federal agencies with research and development budgets of at least $100 million.

A new advance on open access in the U.S. is now on the horizon. On 8 August 2022, President Joe Biden's administration ordered federal agencies to make all publicly funded publications open access free of charge immediately after publication of the final peer-reviewed manuscript (postprint) by the end of 2025. They must also openly publish the data on which those publications are based "without delay". In doing so, the White House significantly restricted, but not formally eliminated, the ability of scholarly publishers to keep final versions of publicly funded publications behind a paywall (embargoed) for up to one year. This brings the open access policy in the U.S. closer to the policy of cOAlition S.

The details of the new measures, including funding for open access, remain unclear for now. It is known that the measures do not envision a single path to open access, e.g., exclusively through gold open access journals. Researchers who publish in subscription journals will have the opportunity to publish the final peer-reviewed manuscript (postprint) in a public repository or other similar location approved by the agency. Scientific publishers, however, will still be able to maintain their publisher-formatted publications (version of record, VoR) behind the paywall. Each federal agency must formulate its open access policy by the end of 2024 and implement it by the end of 2025.

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy estimates that 195,000 to 263,000 scientific articles were produced with federal funding in 2020, representing about 7-9% of the world's scientific output of 2.9 million articles that year.

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