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Policy & Advocacy

Rumored 2020 White House Open Access Policy

Open Access   ·   Open Data

In December of 2019, rumors surfaced that the White House might be considering a new national, zero-embargo open access policy. SPARC strongly endorses updating current US policy and eliminating the unnecessary 12-month waiting period for the public to gain access to the outputs of scientific research, including data, articles, and the supporting computer code. We will continue to closely monitor this development and urge the administration to take action to bring the US in line with the emerging global consensus around zero-embargo policies.

Following the initial surfacing of these rumors, SPARC submitted a letter to the administration supporting a strong open access policy for US federally funded research, and many other stakeholder groups—from students to scientists, patients advocates to publishers—have expressed their support. You can find links to letters from these groups below.

In February 2020, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued a Request for Information (RFI) on Public Access to the Results of Federally Funded Research that closed on May 6th. Along with numerous other organizations and individual advocates, SPARC submitted a response to the RFI which you can find here.

We’ve also seen robust conversation around the potential policy on Twitter at the hashtag #OAintheUSA.

Letters of Support

  • SPARC, on behalf of more than 210 academic and research libraries on college and university campuses and related organizations across the United States [link]
  • Letter from 21 Nobel Prize award-winning scientists and scholars [link]
  • Letter of support signed by nearly 3,000 individual scientists, publishers, funders, patient advocates, librarians, and members of the public [link]
  • Letter from 66 national patient and disease advocacy organizations [link]
  • National Association of Graduate-Professional Students, on behalf of 45 graduate student governments at American universities [link]
  • U.S. PIRG (Public Interest Research Group) and the Student PIRGs, on behalf of more than 83,000 citizen members and 600,000 college students nationwide [link]
  • Coalition letter on behalf of ALA, ACRL, ARL, ASRL, COAPI, Creative Commons, EFF, PeerJ, and SPARC [link]
  • Open Access Publisher letter, on behalf of the Association for Research in Personality Executive Committee, California Digital Library, eLife, F1000, Frontiers, MIT Press, PeerJ, PLOS, Society for the Improvement of Psychological Science Executive Committee, and Ubiquity Press [link]
  • COAPI (the Coalition of Open Access Policy Institutions) [link]

SPARC will post additional letters as we become aware of them. Please contact us at nick [at] with links to any additional supporting letters.

Retractions of Publisher Opposition

In December 2019, the Association of American Publishers (AAP) submitted a letter to the administration opposing the rumored policy signed by a number of publishers and scholarly societies. After criticism from many individual members of these organization, some of the original signatories have since rescinded their support of AAP’s letter. Specifically,

  • The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), in a letter addressed to the Office of Science and Technology Policy, expressed “regret having signed with the coalition.” Full text of the letter is available here.
  • The Association for Psychological Science (APS) expressed “regret signing the AAP letter as it is inconsistent with our values as a society.” Full text available here.
  • The Committee on Publications of the American Sociological Association voted to approve the following statement: “The ASA Committee on Publications expresses our opposition to the decision by the ASA to sign the [AAP] letter.” More information available here.

Relevant Media Coverage

  • “Scientists are unraveling the Chinese coronavirus with unprecedented speed and openness” by Carolyn Y. Johnson in the Washington Post. January 24, 2020. Full text here.
  • “Researchers angry at societies’ opposition to open-access shift” by Ben Upton in Research Professional News. January 9, 2020. Full text here.
  • “Scientific Societies Approach a Moment of Truth” by Justin Fox in Bloomberg News. January 6, 2020. Full text here.

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