Guidance from the University of California Libraries:
The federal government is making significant moves to encourage open access to research. This summer, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) made national headlines with its new guidance that, by 2026, research funded by all federal agencies should be made freely and immediately available to the public, with no embargo.
The new guidance will bring about three significant changes to the status quo:
- Removing the 12-month delay before research publications funded by the largest federal agencies become publicly available;
- Directing that both federally-funded research publications and their supporting data should be made publicly accessible at the time of publication; and
- Bringing all federal agencies into alignment with this open access publishing policy.
While the agencies are being given time to determine how they will operationalize the new guidance, the principles at its heart are in sync with the University of California’s long-standing commitment to make our research freely available to the scientific community and the public.
Here is what UC researchers should know now about what to expect:
When will these changes go into effect?
The OSTP guidance recommends that all federal grantmaking agencies implement the recommended changes no later than Dec. 31, 2025. Some agencies may update their grant requirements sooner.
What will I need to do with my research articles once this policy takes effect?
While many of the details are yet to come as each federal agency determines how they will implement the OSTP guidance, what we can infer now is that:
- We expect the agencies that already have policies regarding public access to the research they fund will continue to use their existing processes to the extent possible, updating them as needed to align with the new guidance. We will know more about those changes once the agencies release their updated public access plans.
- If you obtain future research funding from a smaller agency that does not yet require deposit in an open access repository, the agency will develop a policy requiring you to make your funded articles open access in some form. (The details may vary by agency.)
How does this federal guidance interact with UC’s open access publishing options?
As a UC researcher, you do not have to wait for this government policy to be implemented to make your research open access. In fact, the University of California has had an Open Access Policy in place for many years that enables UC authors to make their research publicly available immediately. To do so, you have several options:
- If you choose to publish in a journal that is part of one of UC’s transformative open access agreements, the UC libraries will pay all or part of the open access publishing fee on your behalf, using library funds that were previously allocated to pay solely for journal subscriptions.
- If UC does not have an open access agreement with the publisher of the journal that has accepted your article, you can typically choose to pay an open access publishing fee to publish your article open access. Under the OSTP guidance, all federal agencies should allow researchers to include publication and data-sharing costs in their research budgets.
- Another cost-free option is to upload your final accepted manuscript (i.e., prior to typesetting by the publisher) into UC’s institutional repository eScholarship. UC’s Open Access Policies allow you to make your final accepted manuscript immediately available unless the journal’s publisher requests an embargo period or a waiver of the UC policy (learn more or contact Data Librarian Kat Koziar with any questions).
If I may have to deposit a copy of my research in a government-approved repository anyway (which is the current requirement of some large federal agencies), are there still benefits to making the final published article open access?
There are access and discoverability benefits to having articles published OA on the publishers site, but the final decision depends on different factors like the goals you have for your final published article. Our librarians will be available for a fuller discussion as the individual agencies policies take effect.
Will the new federal guidance make it easier to get funding to cover the cost of open access publishing?
While we do not yet know the details of how each agency will implement the OSTP guidance, based on the current approach of the large federal agencies, there will be a no-cost option available — such as an approved government repository — where you (or the publisher) can deposit your manuscript and meet the open access requirement at no cost.
Where and how do I share my data?
As agencies implement the OSTP guidance on data sharing, they may recommend or require specific repositories. Until those details are known, a subject-specific repository is usually the best place to share your data since it will be an intuitive location for other scientists to look for datasets in a particular field. There are also general repositories that take in a variety of subjects and interdisciplinary datasets. UC has partnered with the Dryad repository, and UC affiliates can deposit data there for free (as long as it is open and unrestricted, and contains no personally identifiable human subject information; see their FAQ for details).
Tip: When submitting data to a general repository, include data collection protocols, instruments, and other relevant documentation to ensure ease of data reuse. This will significantly enhance how FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable) the data are.
Who can I contact if I have more questions?
If you have questions about our open access agreements, please contact Associate University Librarian for Content and Discovery & Deputy University Librarian Tiffany Moxham.