US National Open Access Policy

Open Access   ·   Open Data

SPARC supports a strong, zero embargo, full-reuse rights open access policy for US federally funded research, including articles, data, and code. Our advocacy is focused on both the executive and legislative branches of the US government.

The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has held a robust series of stakeholder meetings and also issued a Request for Information (RFI) process that closed this May. SPARC joined hundreds of other organizations and individuals in submitting comments, the majority of which were supportive of such a policy. You can find SPARC’s comments here along with a list of those who have written in support of the policy here.

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 developments and urge the administration to take action to bring the US in line with the emerging global consensus around zero-embargo policies.

In Congress, SPARC has continued to work closely with allied members of the House and Senate in exploring opportunities for advancing open research in the United States. SPARC has encouraged the US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions to make open access an integral part of the country’s preparedness planning for future pandemics.

We’ve also seen robust conversation around a national open access 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]
  • Letter from OAWG (Open Access Working Group) [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

  • “Covid-19 Shows That Scientific Journals Need to Open Up” by Justin Fox in Bloomberg News. June 30, 2020. Full text here.
  • “Will Trump White House tear down journal paywalls? Many anxiously await a decision” by Jeffrey Brainard in Science. May 21, 2020. Full text here.
  • “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.


  • SPARC One-Pager on a National Open Access Policy [download here]
  • SPARC Common Misconceptions document [download here]
  • Map highlighting countries with institutional and national funder OA polices [download here]
  • SPARC comments in response to OSTP RFI [download here]
  • List of organizations and individuals supportive of a strong, national open access policy [download here]
  • Analysis on public research benefits and publishers’ profits [download here]
  • Brief on open-archiving policies [download here]

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