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HHS Releases Plans for Public Access to Federally Funded Research

image © Wyn Van Devanter

On February 27, 2015, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released implementation plans for five HHS agencies based on a common policy approach in response to the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) 2013 memorandum regarding public access to federally funded research. The OSTP memorandum directed federal agencies with R&D budgets of $100 million or more to develop plans to make the published results of federally funded research freely available to the public within one year of publication.

The five HHS agencies that released public access plans last week are the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR).

In the release of these plans, HHS Secretary Burwell noted that the five agencies worked collaboratively to establish “guiding principles” as well as a framework to develop implementation plans for each agency to best meet the needs of the agencies’ missions and research communities. All of the agencies will utilize PubMed Central as a central repository for deposit of peer-reviewed journal articles, either final manuscripts or published articles. The embargo period will be capped at no more than 12 months.

With regards to digital data, HHS and each agency see digital data policies as “evolving” and recognize that much of the HHS agencies’ funded digital data resides externally to these agencies. To date, HHS has no shared repository for deposit of HHS agencies’ digital data. An internal HHS Enterprise Data Inventory will serve as the catalog for all HHS data assets and will, over time, be linked to HealthData.gov, a platform through which the public will be able to locate and access federally funded research data. A valuable element of the HHS release regarding digital data is the development of a data-management template by the CDC that will standardize the types and format of information to be submitted by researchers in their data-management plans.

Importantly, HHS calls for the “support for training and workforce development related to scientific data management, analysis, storage, preservation, and stewardship of data.”

It is expected that the HHS agencies’ plans and policies will become effective no later than end of the calendar year 2015.

Links to the federal agency plans and policies that have been released to date are being collected on the ARL website.

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