NIST Releases Public Access Plan: Agency will Partner with NIH to use PMC Platform
Heather Joseph, Executive Director, SPARC
The National Institute of Standards and Technology has released its plan for policies ensuring public access to articles and data resulting from its funded research, as required by the February 2013 White House directive, laying out a strong framework for a comprehensive approach to ensure access and productive reuse of NIST-funded research outputs.
NIST Plan for Articles: Partner with NIH’s PubMed Central
NIST’s plan calls for the agency to partner with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to use PubMed Central (PMC) as the repository for articles. The plan indicated that NIST selected this option in order to “leverage the well-established search, archival, and dissemination features of PMC.”
All NIST-funded researchers will be required to deposit their final peer-reviewed manuscripts into PMC upon acceptance in a peer-reviewed journal and make them available to the public with no longer than a 12-month embargo period. NIST will also accept final published articles where allowed and will follow the NIH’s current format requirements. As with the other agencies, NIST will provide stakeholders with a mechanism for petitioning the agency to “shorten or extend the allowable embargo period.” NIST envisions that this process would take place through a public petition process run through the Federal Register.
NIST notes that it will also follow the NIH’s current rules on reuse rights for articles in the PMC database, putting the onus on authors to ensure that they have secured sufficient rights to deposit articles, and limiting reuse rights to the bulk of the PMC collection to only those currently allowed under Fair Use.
The plan notes that bulk downloading can be facilitated, however, the PMC Open Archives Initiative (OAI) service and the PMC File Transfer Protocol (FTP) service are the only services that may be used for automated downloading. Additionally, only a subset of the total PMC content (the PMC Open Access Subset – articles that are distributed under a Creative Commons or similar license) can be downloaded.
NIST will take a staged approach to publications. It will start in 2015 with a pilot, including the NIST Journal of Research and the Journal of Physical and Chemical Reference Data, to establish metadata and publication transfer protocols to PMC. In year two, deposit of all NIST-intramural articles will be operational, and in year three, extramural publications funded wholly or in part by NIST will be deposited. NIST indicates that this evolutionary plan provides a system to monitor compliance with the new policy over time, using data from PubMed Central and other sources.
NIST Plan for Research Data: Three-Part Strategy
NIST’s plan for providing public access to data consists of three components: requiring data management plans (DMPs), creating an Enterprise Data Inventory (EDI), and establishing a Common Access Platform providing a public access infrastructure.
The first component, calling for all investigators requesting funding to submit a Data Management Plan (DMP) outlining plans for managing and providing access to research data, or else provide a rationale as to why their research can not be made available, puts NIST in line with all other agencies who are using DMP’s to effectively set the default mode for NIST-generated research data to “open.”
At a minimum, NIST calls for data management plans (DMPs) to contain a summary of activities that generate data, a summary of the data types generated by the identified activities, a plan for storage and preservation of the data, and a plan describing whether and how data generated will be reviewed and made available to the public.
The second component of NIST’s plan for research data calls for the development of an Enterprise Data Inventory (EDI), which will be a catalog of the datasets that are generated via NIST-sponsored research. The goal of the EDI will be to enable researchers to discover and connect data to scientific articles, other datasets, etc. The metadata describing the scientific data contained in the catalog will include, at a minimum, the common core metadata schema currently in use by the federal government.
The final component, the Common Access Platform (CAP), creates production-level infrastructure populated with persistent identifiers and metadata for all publicly available NIST data. CAP is expected to provide for data interoperability within NIST and potentially with other federal agencies.
Unlike many other agencies and departments, the NIST plan does not include any language indicating that NIST intends to require that any data directly related to a NIST-funded research publication be made freely publicly accessible on the day of the article’s publication.
Finally, NIST joins the majority of the other U.S. agencies in noting that the Department will explore the development of a “research data commons” along with other departments and agencies, for storage, discoverability, and reuse of data with a particular focus on making the data underlying peer reviewed scientific publications resulting from federally funded scientific research available for free at the time of publication.