Fourteen years after the late Aaron Swartz released his Guerrilla Open Access manifesto calling for the release of publicly funded scientific literature, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy will make taxpayer-funded research available to the public free of charge. I asked for
Dr. Alondra Nelson, Head of OSTP, Issued Guidance [PDF] Directs officials from U.S. government departments and agencies to update their public access policies as soon as possible by December 31, 2025, stating, Publishing the data that will become “without embargo” will be available to the public free of charge. ”
“The United States is committed to the idea that openness in science is fundamental, that safety is essential, and that freedom and integrity matter,” Nelson wrote in a note. Improve policies to facilitate the rapid sharing of federally funded research data and implement appropriate safeguards and accountability measures to increase the effectiveness of research results and ensure that data are aligned with these ideals. It allows for more equitable access to resources.”
In 2011, Swartz, who helped develop the RSS and Creative Commons projects, set up an unauthorized computer in an MIT closet to make copies of scholarly journal articles from JSTOR, a digital library of scholarly journals with paywall access. I was arrested by the MIT police for downloading it. He aimed to make publicly funded research accessible to all.
As he wrote in his manifesto three years ago, “Regardless of where information is stored, we must make copies and share it with the world. Take what is not copyrighted and add it to the archive.” You have to buy a secret database and put it on the web, you have to download a scientific journal and upload it to a file-sharing network.”
In doing so, Swartz was indicted for violating the U.S. Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. He could have been sentenced to his maximum of 35 years in prison.
Swartz rejected a plea bargain seeking a six-month sentence and attempted a deal without jail time, which MIT reportedly disapproved of. In January 2013, he committed suicide at the young age of 26.
A month later, OSTP under Obama issued a memo [PDF] The title is “Increased Access to the Results of Federally Funded Scientific Research.” He called on federal agencies and departments whose annual research spending exceeds $100 million to develop plans to facilitate access to publicly funded research.
However, as Nelson points out in a memo, the older guidance approved a 12-month embargo period after publication, which would allow scholarly publishers to maintain exclusive, paid-for distribution windows. is ready.
“This provision limits immediate access to federally funded research results to only those who can pay for it or who have privileged access through libraries or other institutions,” Nelson said. explains. “Financial means and privileged access should not be a prerequisite for realizing the benefits of federally funded research that Americans deserve.”
In 2019, the Trump administration considered an executive order to end the 12-month embargo period. However, there was pushback from scholarly publishers and the scientific community who wanted to keep their income during the embargo. No executive order was issued.
economic analysis [PDF] Published in conjunction with Nelson’s memo, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition’s (SPARC) paper showing that “the average cost of publishing a research article from all funding sources is between $2,000 and $3,000.” I am quoting numbers.
In many cases, the costs can be charged against contracts, grants, and research budgets related to federally funded research awards. SPARC, on the other hand, puts his estimated earnings per article for publishers between $1,500 for him and $2,000 for him.
“By comparison, the ‘production’ cost of depositing federally funded research articles in free public access repositories is modestly as low as $15 and federally owned and managed, such as PubMed.” It can be even lower in repositories,” said the analysis.
It is therefore estimated that eliminating the annual paywall period would save taxpayers between $390 million and $789 million. ®