Last summer, the White House mandated that any research based on federally funded studies must be made freely available to the public without an embargo. The new requirement, which updates an existing policy that allowed a 12-month embargo for making research freely available, will take effect by the end of 2025.
At the time, many open-access advocates celebrated the decision, but some scholars wondered who would fund the policy, given the high cost to researchers who publish open access.
Now, a paper published in the Journal of Science Policy and Governance offers recommendations for colleges, publishers and funding agencies interested in supporting open access moving forward. (Note: This article has been updated to correct the journal's name.)
Colleges might cancel subscriptions with major publishers in favor of paying for researchers’ open-access article processing charges, according to the paper. They might also “reevaluate the weight that journal impact factor carries in the tenure and promotion review process,” given an absence of evidence correlating journal impact factor with research quality. Such a change would facilitate researchers’ incentives to publish in newer, open-access journals over “established, expensive, higher impact journals.”
Publishers should be more transparent about journal operating costs and how article processing charges are used, according to the paper. They might also offer a wider range of open-access publishing options.
Funding agencies might increase grant budgets to offset the expected higher costs of open-access publishing, according to the paper. The authors of the study described such a measure as “temporary, if expensive.” Funders could also increase their scrutiny of publication costs in researchers’ proposed budgets and “openly endorse non-profit [open-access] journals and platforms with minimal or no fees for researchers.”
The new policy presents hurdles for colleges, publishers and funding agencies, but some expect that it will benefit society.
“When research is widely available to other researchers and the public, it can save lives, provide policy makers with the tools to make critical decisions, and drive more equitable outcomes across every sector of society,” Alondra Nelson, head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, wrote last August when the policy was announced. “The American people fund tens of billions of dollars of cutting-edge research annually. There should be no delay or barrier between the American public and the returns on their investments in research.”