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Understanding the Changing Federal Requirements for Public Access to Research Publications and Data

Who to contact with questions

If you’re attending the UC Davis Research Expo on May 16, learn more at our breakout session on Open Science.

While open access publishing of scholarly research is becoming more mainstream, both at UC and beyond, open data practices still vary widely across research communities. The rapidly shifting landscape can make it challenging to track what’s required in any given situation, and where at UC Davis to go for help if questions arise. Here’s an overview of the latest developments.

Data management and sharing

One of the most significant recent changes is that on January 25, 2023, the updated National Institutes of Health (NIH) Data Management and Sharing Policy (NIH DMS Policy) went into effect, requiring the sharing of NIH-funded research data.

Under the policy, NIH now requires a two-page data management and sharing plan be included with research grant submissions. (The policy does not apply to research and other activities that do not generate scientific data, such as training, infrastructure development, and non-research activities.) The data management and sharing plan must include specifics about how data generated from NIH-funded research will be made publicly available via an appropriate data repository.

NIH cites multiple benefits to sharing scientific data, and ultimately the policy will advance the development of treatments and products that improve human health.

“Sharing scientific data accelerates biomedical research discovery, in part, by enabling validation of research results, providing accessibility to high-value datasets, and promoting data reuse for future research studies.”

National Institutes of Health

Other federal funding agencies are also expected to begin requiring research data sharing within the next two years, as they implement their own data-sharing policies in line with the 2022 White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) memorandum “Ensuring Free, Immediate, and Equitable Access to Federally Funded Research.” The deadline is for agencies to publish their plans by December 31, 2024, and implement them by the following year. The library will be tracking those new requirements as each agency announces its planned approach, and will continue to share information as it becomes available.

Open access publishing

Open access publishing aims to make scholarly publications available at no cost to the reader. Researchers who receive NIH funding are already familiar with the agency’s mandate to deposit peer-reviewed articles in its full-text archive PubMed Central. This requirement is laid out in the 2008 NIH Public Access Policy and compliance is the responsibility of the principal investigator. Other large federal agencies such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Department of Energy (DoE) also have similar policies in place.

All federal funding agencies will be updating and implementing their open access policies based on the recent OSTP memorandum, which recommends that all federally-funded research publications be made immediately available to the public, with no waiting period. As with the data-sharing guidance described above, the deadline is for agencies to publish their plans by December 31, 2024, and implement them by the following year.

Open science

Open science encompasses a growing set of practices that make scholarly output (publications, data, code, protocols, etc.) more accessible, transparent, reliable, and inclusive to all levels of an inquiring society. The underlying rationale is that openness increases the quality, efficiency, and impact of science.

With more than a dozen federal agencies and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy celebrating 2023 as a Year of Open Science, emphasis on sharing research openly continues to grow — and we at the UC Davis Library will be there to support you every step of the way.

UC Policies and Tools that Support Compliance with Federal Grants

Data management and sharing

UC policy and tools are consistent with federal data management and sharing guidance, including the new NIH DMS Policy.

  • Build your data management plan using UC’s DMPTool, an online tool that includes templates and examples to guide you through the process of creating a data management plan that meets funder requirements.
  • Submit your data into Dryad, an open data publishing platform supported by UC. NIH also supports use of Dryad as a generalist repository.

Open access

The University’s policies on open access publishing, as laid out in the UC Systemwide Academic Senate Open Access Policy and UC Presidential Open Access Policy, align well with most federal grant requirements. Authors have two main options to comply:

  • Best practice is to make the final published journal article open access. More than half of all articles by UC authors are now eligible for funding support through UC’s transformative open access agreements with a range of scholarly publishers. The university will typically pay the first $1,000 of the open access fee (also known as an article processing charge, or APC) automatically; if the author does not have research funds available to cover the remainder, UC will pay the full amount in most cases.
  • Deposit the author’s manuscript into an open access repository such as PubMed Central, or use the UC Publication Management System to deposit into UC’s eScholarship repository.


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