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27 February 2013, 11:33

Obama to make research results publicly available

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The White House has released a memorandumPDF saying that the results of government-funded research must be made publicly available in a science journal twelve months after their first release. The initiative by US president Barack Obama also includes accompanying scientific data in digital formats, as long as their publication doesn't affect third party rights such as the right to privacy.

The initiative is limited to scientific research that is funded with an annual budget of at least $100 million by major US government agencies. Among these agencies are the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). All qualifying institutions must present a draft roadmap and implementation strategy for the "Open Access" initiative to the US Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) within six months. Once the OSTP has reviewed the drafts, it will ask for the views of interested parties such as universities, libraries and publishing houses before finalising procedures.

With its initiative, Washington generally wants to ensure that actual scientific research data becomes as available as possible to the public, to industry and to the research community with as few barriers as possible. This could encourage innovative breakthroughs and promote the economy, said the White House.

The US government also acknowledges that publishers perform valuable services which are essential to guarantee the availability of high-quality scientific publications, for example by coordinating peer-reviewed contributions. "It is critical that these services continue to be made available", said the memorandum. At the same time, the US Congress is reviewing a draft Open Access bill. This bill stipulates that research data should be made available six months after it was first published, but it doesn't include raw scientific data, an omission that US civil rights campaigners have criticised.

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(Stefan Krempl / ehe)

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