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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Releases Plan for Public Access to NOAA-Funded Research

image © Wyn Van Devanter

In early April 2015, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released the, “NOAA Plan for Increasing Public Access to Research Results” (PDF). The plan details the extensive, long-term investments that NOAA has made in the preservation of and access to digital data and how the plan will build upon the existing data and publication policies, infrastructure, and ongoing work of the NOAA Library. The plan notes that administrative and reporting requirements for researchers will be minimized.

For publications, the plan calls for the research results that are produced by both intramural and extramural grantees to be deposited in the new NOAA Institutional Repository that will be managed by the NOAA Library. The repository will make each final, peer-reviewed pre-publication manuscript publicly accessible following a 12-month embargo. Grantees will be required to specify funding sources using FundRef when papers are submitted for publication. Submitted manuscripts will be required to be in a publicly accessible format such as PDF with Adobe Accessibility Check performed. Metadata for each article will include DOIs for the published version of the article and the end date of the embargo.

Compliance for publications by intramural grantees will be required beginning in the first quarter of FY 2016; for extramural researchers, compliance requirements take effect in the second quarter of FY 2016. For extramural grantees, NOAA will review specific compliance metrics to determine whether a grantee has not complied and “shall be prohibited from future funding or otherwise sanctioned.” The plan is not retrospective with regard to publications.

In partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), NOAA will utilize CDC Stacks (a repository system) with CDC as the systems provider for the NOAA Institutional Repository and the NOAA Library as the content provider. CDC Stacks will permit users to search, download, read, and analyze digital publications and also provide an archival solution. Unlike other federal agency plans released to date, the NOAA Repository will include NOAA-authored and NOAA-sponsored research papers, technical and data reports, technical memoranda, and more. The CDC system does not have the capacity to permit bulk downloading. It is not clear how much reuse will be permitted as the plan states, “Users can request a copy of the publications that can be freely redistributed based on the publication’s license.”

A significant proportion of the NOAA plan relates to data, given NOAA’s mission and long-term investment in data. NOAA has three long-standing data centers and a data-sharing policy that calls for the intramural data producers to develop comprehensive data-management plans and submit the data to a NOAA data center for long-term preservation and access. The existing NOAA data-sharing policy will be revised to require all grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements to include data-management planning. Researchers will be required to describe how and where the resulting data will be available to the public and to make “the data that underlie the conclusions of peer-reviewed scientific publications…available for discovery, retrieval, and analysis for free at the time of publication.” NOAA will support some but not all long-term preservation and access of extramural digital data—it will support those data sets that are of “long-term relevance.” NOAA grant programs may state that reasonable costs of data sharing and archiving may be included in the grant proposal. The revised data-sharing policy will go into effect in the second quarter of FY 2016.

NOAA’s public access plan includes a description of work that is underway to link publications and data by citing specific data sets in the reference list of a publication. For several years the NOAA National Data Centers and others have been assigning persistent, resolvable identifiers to archival data sets. To that end, the plan calls for the public accessibility of all NOAA-produced data, both current and retrospective, as well as those legacy results archived at one of the NOAA Data Centers.

The May 2013 Obama Administration memorandum on the US Open Data Policy called for the establishment of a comprehensive inventory of federal agency data. As a result of this memorandum, many agencies have invested in directories, inventories, and catalogs of federal digital data. NOAA established the NOAA Data Catalog, which enables discovery of NOAA’s public data holdings. The NOAA Data Catalog will include the common core metadata schema that is in use by the federal government.

NOAA will continue and possibly enhance its ongoing data-management training and workforce development activities. NOAA will also look to external activities to supplement its efforts in this area.

Finally, NOAA is also working with other federal agencies in support of a “Research Data Commons,” a shared space for federally funded extramural research output.

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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