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National Institute of Standards and Technology Releases Plan for Public Access to NIST-Funded Research

image © Wyn Van Devanter

The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released on April 3, 2015, a “Plan for Providing Public Access to the Results of Federally Funded Research” (PDF). The NIST plan calls for making peer-reviewed scholarly publications and associated data that result from NIST funding publicly accessible. The plan applies to both NIST employees and grantees.

NIST is taking a phased approach to implementation of the plan regarding publications. There will be a pilot exercise in year one (FY 2015) that will include two journals, the NIST Journal of Research and the Journal of Physical and Chemical Reference Data. In year two (FY 2016), deposit of NIST-authored publications will be operational and, in year three (FY 2017), extramural publications of scientific research funded by NIST will be required to be deposited in the NIST public access archive system. As of October 2015, there will be standard language regarding public access to data and publications in the terms and conditions for grants and contracts.

NIST will partner with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and use PubMed Central (PMC) as a repository for NIST-funded peer-reviewed publications. Authors of peer-reviewed publications resulting from NIST funding are required to submit their final, accepted manuscripts plus metadata to the NIST public access archive system. NIST will maintain a NIST interface to PMC to ensure “easy search, analysis, and download of the full text of peer-reviewed scholarly publications arising from research funded by NIST.” The NIST plan cites two PMC services that may be used for automated retrieval and bulk downloading of a subset of articles and all metadata from PMC: the PMC Open Archives Initiative (OAI) service and the PMC File Transfer Protocol (FTP) service.

For journal literature, there will be a 12-month embargo period following publication, though NIST may consider a shorter or longer embargo period. Annually NIST will provide public notice in the Federal Register to allow individuals and organizations to petition to change the embargo period for a specific field by providing “evidence that the current embargo period does not provide a public benefit and is inconsistent with the objectives articulated in the OSTP memo.”

NIST approaches access to digital data in three ways: through data management plans (DMPs), an Enterprise Data Inventory (EDI), and a Common Access Platform (CAP) that is the public access infrastructure.  Some of these efforts build on earlier work underway in response to the May 2013 Obama Administration memorandum on “Open Data Policy—Managing Information as an Asset.”

Data management plans in NIST grant proposals must contain (1) a summary of grant activities that lead to the generation of data, (2) data types that are generated by grant activities, (3) how data will be stored and preserved, and (4) how data will be reviewed and made publicly available. The DMP may also include an explanation of why data sharing and preservation are not included of the plan. “Reasonable costs” for data sharing and preservation may be included in the DMP as well. As of October 2014, DMPs are required for all NIST-funded research.

The Enterprise Data Inventory is a catalog of the data sets that result from NIST-funded research as well as metadata and information about how and where the data sets can be accessed. The Common Access Platform will be a production-level infrastructure that will include persistent identifiers and metadata for publicly available NIST data. The NIST plan notes that the CAP will be interoperable within NIST and possibly with other federal agencies.

Finally, the NIST plan includes a list of metrics that will be used to evaluate compliance with the NIST Public Access Policy. The plan also includes a series of timelines regarding development and implementation of the policy, infrastructure, processes, and outreach and education, all specified for both data and publications.

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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