Making Your Research Findings Public

Amanda Whitmire, OSU Libraries
Amanda Whitmire, OSU Libraries

IN 2012, MORE THAN 65,000 PEOPLE PETITIONED the White House demanding public access to the results of taxpayer-funded research. An official response from John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), was an enthusiastic, “You bet!” (roughly paraphrased).

Three years later, open access to the U.S. federal granting system is finally reaching the institutions and researchers who are supported by such funding. Mandates requiring researchers to provide access to the articles and datasets generated by their research are going into effect as early as this month. By January 2016 nearly every federal agency will require a data-management plan (DMP) to be submitted with proposals.

How will you know what your obligations are?

Here at Oregon State University, where researchers brought in over $185 million in federal funding last fiscal year, these mandates will have a significant impact on the daily activities of our research enterprise.

Nearly all of the federal agencies impacted by the OSTP memorandum have released plans that describe, more or less, their policies and intended approaches to providing public access to research results. OSU Libraries has been closely monitoring the release of federal public access plans, and provides a summary with links to all available documents. In addition to becoming familiar with the access plan from your funding agency, we also encourage you to thoroughly scrutinize your calls for proposal to find any additional information or requirements. Mandates, procedures and platforms will be evolving quickly over the next several years.

Are there support resources available now?

Yes! OSU Libraries will facilitate the deposit of your articles into federal repositories (such as the National Institutes of Health’s PubMed Central, the Department of Energy’s PAGES). The Libraries’ Research Data Services (RDS) group is available to help review your data management plan before submitting your proposal. The RDS group can also help you optimize all aspects of your data-management habits, as well as connect you to any additional resources you might need.

As for meeting funder mandates, we are happy to help you find a suitable data repository for sharing your datasets, including the use of our institutional repository if a federal or “domain-agnostic” repository cannot be identified. We can also help you prepare the necessary metadata to support data reuse (often a simple “readme” file is sufficient).

What’s the bottom line?

It’s not clear how or when federal agencies will be enforcing these new mandates, but it is certain that they will eventually. It pays to be ahead of the curve and to form new habits while you aren’t under the pressure of having your funding put on hold. Crafting a thoughtful data-management plan (you could think of it as a “data-sharing plan”) is a simple way to get a head start. There are excellent, up-to-date, agency-specific templates available to guide you, and the RDS group is always available for consultations.

Our services are free, and we are happy to help.

More information is available at the following links:

Amanda Whitmire is an assistant professor specializing in data management at OSU Libraries.