Last year, the Association for Computers and the Humanities strongly advocated for “open access to federally-funded research and research publications, and the inclusion of humanities voices in… crucial conversations” about public access to public goods, in an open letter to the US White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Today, the ACH Executive Council celebrates a groundbreaking OSTP policy memorandum.
This policy institutes guidelines for open access closely aligned to the recently-introduced Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR). We urge our US-based members to advocate for legislation like FASTR, and to share their support for the new OSTP policy with federal funders of digital humanities research.
A bi-partisan bill, FASTR would make the new OSTP policy into law, mandating that federal agencies with extramural research budgets of at least $100 million give the public online access to research manuscripts resulting from taxpayer funding. These manuscripts would be made available no more than six months after being published in a peer-reviewed journal. FASTR would build upon the success of the NIH mandate for public access to federally funded research, which has made available an average of 90,000 papers annually and served approximately 700,000 unique users each weekday. FASTR includes protections for publishers of subscription-based journals, including an embargo of up to six months and the requirement that the final version of the manuscript, not the published version, be deposited. ACH encourages its US-based members to contact their representatives in support of FASTR, which promises to ensure access to scholarly research funded by the public, facilitate innovative computational research methods such as text and data mining, foster the sharing and discovery of knowledge, and increase the visibility and value of academic work.
On behalf of its membership, the ACH Executive Council also reiterates the importance of including humanities perspectives in continuing conversations about public access to taxpayer-supported research, with an eye toward requiring that all funding agencies take open access policies and mandates seriously.
“Today’s OSTP announcement is a watershed moment for open access in the United States,” said ACH president Bethany Nowviskie. “Humanities agencies like the NEH and IMLS may have special challenges in implementing such policies, but digital humanities scholars and practitioners can help lead the way. Taxpayer-funded humanities scholarship is a public good,” she added, “and it is our duty, where necessary, to reconfigure existing systems of academic publishing and prestige in order to make this work as freely and immediately available as we can.”