Open Voices Interview with Ana Enriquez


Open Voices Interview with Ana Enriquez, Penn State University Library

In this interview of our Open Voices series we are talking to Ana Enriquez, the Interim Head, Scholarly Communications and Copyright at the Penn State University Libraries, about recent changes in federal Open Access policy in the US and what means for US libraries and the wider publishing environment.

Hardy: Hi Ana, nice talking to you and we appreciate your time. Can you please introduce yourself to readers of this blog?
Ana: Sure. I am the Scholarly Communications Outreach Librarian at the Penn State University Libraries and I am the Interim Head of our Office of Scholarly Communications and Copyright. I am a copyright lawyer and a librarian, and an advocate for Open Access.

Hardy: Thanks. I would like to talk to you about the recent policy announcements by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) that got a lot of attention here in Europe as well. Could you first explain the changes that are coming?


OSTP memo from 25 August 2022

Ana: Sure. The status quo is based on a 2013 memo from the same Office of Science and Technology Policy in the White House, and it applies to 19 Federal Agencies. It relates to the agencies that grant more than 100 million USD in research expenditure per year. The big funders are required to have public access plans, and under that 2013 memo they are allowed to have a twelve month embargo on access to funded articles and scholarly publications. At that point, after twelve months, the funded publications must be available to the public in a funder managed repository.

For research data under the current system, these agencies are supposed to require grantees to have data management plans that describe how they are going to manage their data, but they don't require that much in particular. You have to comply with your data management plan, and it is part of the grant application, so your grant is selected based on your data management plan. But it is pretty flexible in terms of what the researcher sets up that they are promising to do.

The change now with the 2022 memo is a few things: It is going to widen which agencies are subject to the memo. It is going to apply to all agencies that have research and development expenditures of any amount! That's pretty exciting, I think, especially in the humanities and in fields that are supported by the smaller funders. We are still waiting to see how that shakes out exactly, but it seems like that this will be a pretty significant expansion. 

Another thing that is changing is the embargo on publications, and this is probably what's gotten the most attention in the US and internationally. This is what people are really excited about: the twelve month embargo is going away. Agencies have to require their grantees to make their articles available at the time of publication, still in a funder designated repository. I think many of us are assuming that those agencies that already have these plans in place are going to continue using the repositories that that we know, so PubMed Central, and then there is one for the National Science Foundation called NSF-PAR.  There are quite a few of these, one for each agency.

And another thing that is new: The memo is going to be more specific on data. It requires agencies to make the data underlying publications available at no cost to the public at the time of publication. This is a stronger requirement than in the 2013 memo which said we should care about public access to data and we should ask researchers what they are planning to do. This memo is saying more specifically what researchers need to do, making that publication-supporting data available no later than the time of publication. Or if the grant ends before you publish, you have to make data available at the time the grant ends.

Hardy: Before I ask you about the details of how this will work, looking at the big picture, will this have an impact on the publishing industry as a whole?
Ana: What I've seen in the US is that our National Institutes of Health (NIH) led the way on these public access policies. They had the first one in 2008. As a result, we saw publishers in the health sciences almost entirely move to having no more than a twelve month embargo required across the board. For any Green Open Access relating to their journals, they went to, at most, a twelve month embargo. Of course, they didn't have to do that. They could have said, only if you have NIH funding do you get a shorter embargo, but for the most part they went to a twelve month embargo for everybody. At that point that was a significant reduction in embargoes and an improvement of Green Open Access options.

Ana Enriquez, image source, CC-BY

Because NIH moved first, we were able to see that in the health sciences, biomedical sciences and other disciplines that were likely to have NIH funding, those embargoes went down, while in the physical sciences, where there is similar publishing traditions, chemistry for example, embargoes  didn't change right away. Here they went down after the 2013 memo came in and the National Science Foundation announced its public access plan. Publishers have certainly responded to the 2008 policy by NIH, and then the 2013 memo from the White House, and they will have to respond to this 2022 memo.

Hardy: What questions following the 2022 OSTP announcement remain unresolved? What is needed for its implementation?

Ana: I am expecting this to look very similar to the current implementation by NIH and NSF. I should say that the 2013 memo has not been fully implemented yet by all Federal Agencies that are subject to it. You know, the Federal Government moves slowly. It is been nine years! A couple of years ago the US Government Accountability Office issued a report on how agencies were doing in complying with the 2013 memo, and they found that many agencies were out of compliance with that memo to some extent, and some of that has still not been fixed.

But NIH, NSF, the Department of Energy (DOE), all of the really big funders are in compliance with the 2013 memo right now, and I anticipate that they will comply with the timelines in the 2022 memo. They have their own repositories set up and I think they will want to keep using their own repositories. Right now, if you are an NIH, NSF or DOE funded researcher, and you publish in a Gold Open Access journal, your article still has to go into the funder repository. There are a lot of good reasons for that, because these repositories are valuable for text mining, and to the agency to look at all of its funded research together. The agencies are interested in having all that research collocated. The 2013 and the 2022 memo talk about “agency designated repositories”, so there is some flexibility there potentially. But I really anticipate that we are going to continue to see publications going into the established repositories.

Hardy: Maybe this is something I haven't fully understood. Funders run their own repositories and grantees have to submit to them?
Ana: I should distinguish between publications and data, because right now for publications the funders are managing their own repositories and I think that is going to continue. For data, I believe the memo requests that the agencies need to provide guidance on where the data should be deposited and that the repositories for data need to align with certain criteria that have been released by OSTP, like free access, having a retention policy, all the kinds of things that we might think about in characteristics of repositories. They have taken a position on what a good data repository looks like. 

But for publications you are correct that institutional repositories don't count for this. Penn State University has an institutional repository, and we have an Open Access Policy that is encouraging authors to make their publications available. A huge amount of our university research is in PubMed Central or NSF-PAR or one of the other funder managed repositories. The way we handle that is, if we can find it in PubMed Central or NSF-PAR we don't need to also have it in our repository. We do this by checking the DOI in Unpaywall and Open Access Button. We want to help people make their publications open but we don't have the same attitude as those federal funders where they want to see all of their research in in their repository. We think of it more as a service that is available to researchers, but if they are making it open elsewhere, it doesn't need to be duplicated in our repository. One of the reasons for that is sustainability. If we trust the place where the research is then it is not really necessary for us to be also putting it on our servers.

Hardy: Will the new guidance change anything for your library?

Ana: I think it is going to make it easier for us, because right now that twelve month embargo is a little tricky. How does our Open Access policy line up? Our current OA policy requires immediate access but then there is an option to have a waiver that that includes an embargo. It will be much more straightforward that publications are available without an embargo in in those funder repositories. Of course, the point of us having an Open Access policy is to make Penn State research available to the public and making it available at the time of publication is more valuable than waiting twelve months. I think it will be a big improvement for our users and for the logistics.

I don't think it is going to be a big change for our researchers. The reason for that is that the federal agencies that have fully implemented the 2013 memo actually all require that the researcher deposits their publication at the time of publication. And then it is under embargo. But it is not as though the researcher has twelve months to comply with the sharing policy. So I don't think it is going to change the day-to-day work of funded researchers that much.

Penn State University Libraries. Image: Christie Clancy / Penn State. Creative Commons

Hardy: In Ireland we have a number of Open Access agreements in place, and they have been growing in number in the last couple of years. I wonder what place such transformative agreements have in the US given your policy environment?
Ana: It is what we are all wondering! Penn State has a few transformative agreements as well, and they are getting more common in the US. Certainly not the way they are in Europe but they are getting more common for sure. One of the tensions with them already prior to this memo coming out, was that most funders in the United States are focused on Green Open Access, not Gold. The transformative agreements are not at odds with Green Open Access. You publish something in a Gold or hybrid journal, and that is fine as far as the NIH is concerned. But NIH is not asking people to publish Gold Open Access, and they are providing Green Open Access infrastructure. 

To some extent the existing Green Open Access policies diminish the value of a transformative agreement for US institutions, because if you have a lot of funded research you know that it is going to be Open twelve months after publication. It might be the Author Accepted Manuscript and not be open on the publisher's website, but it is going to be available to the public. So, what you are paying for when you pay for Gold Open Access publishing for funded research is the first twelve months. That is a very different proposition from paying for taking something from totally closed to open. That might be more valuable than a publication that is going to be out of embargo in twelve months. I think that is one reason why transformative agreements have been a little slower to take off in the US. 

And now the question is if the research is going to be open at the time of publication on NIH's PubMed Central what is the point of paying an APC using a transformative agreement? We will have to see how the publishers react and how libraries react. But Green Open Access, I think, has a very strong foothold with the existing policy and the infrastructure that is connected to that. It is my hope that Green Open Access will not go away, and I don't see anything in in the memo to suggest that the White House OSTP wants to move to Gold. It is still very supportive of Green. There is actually a study of the economics of the publishing industry that the OSTP put together and sent to Congress at the same time they released the memo.

Hardy: I wanted to ask you about research data, because I don't think that part of the OSTP memo received as much interest. Will your library think differently about research data as a result of the memo?
Ana: Right now, we provide a lot of support for people who are writing their data management plan. We can help figure out what is a good repository for their data, how to share it, how to curate it, what kind of information to put in a file, all those data management best practices. All that is not going to change and we are going to continue to do that. Going forward, I think there may be more appetite for our services because there will be a stronger data sharing requirement on a lot of researchers at our university. 

Another thing that might happen is that data management might become a little more standardised. Right now, it is up to researchers writing their own data management plans. They can almost write whatever they want, and that leads to a lot of different requirements that people have promised to do. So, depending on how the data part of the memo gets implemented by the agencies, we may see a little more consistency. That could be good for the people who want to reuse the data, and also easier on the library and the research administration of the University who are who are ensuring that the data is able to be shared.

Hardy: Do you have a data repository at your university?
Ana: The repository that I mentioned before in the library takes data as well as publications. And then we also have a few discipline specific data repositories that are housed elsewhere on campus for very particular types of data.

Hardy: My last question is on the Arts & Humanities. You mentioned before that they are now more affected by the memo than before given that smaller funders are now required to implement the new policy. What are the changes for them?
Ana: The memo gives agencies that were not subject to the 2013 memo a longer timeline for implementation. It will be a little while before we see their plans and I don't know what the reaction will be among the funded humanities researchers. The National Endowment for the Humanities is really quite small. It is unlike in the sciences, where having an NSF or a Department of Energy grant or an NIH grant is really important as part of your professional portfolio as a researcher. Most researchers in the sciences are going to be impacted by an NSF grant at some point in their career. If they don't have one themselves then their advisor had one, or their students are getting them. They just touch everybody. My sense is that it is not the same at all for the National Endowment for the Humanities. Those grants are quite unusual. 

Another agency that I believe will be covered now that hasn't been affected in the past would be the Institute of Museum and Library Services which gives grants to librarians, and it will be interesting to see that one coming online. I think we've seen a lot of support for Open Access and data management best practices in the library community! So I hope that we get to put our best foot forward with our own funding agency!

Hardy: One thing I have not noticed was if monographs are covered by the memo?
Ana: There is significant latitude for agencies to do what they want beyond the memo. But the memo is specifically about journal articles. 

Hardy: Thank you so much Ana. Is there anything else that you think we should take notice of that we haven't mentioned in our conversation?
Ana: No, but I've been pleased to see how much folks from outside the US are paying attention to this. I am really excited about it, and I hope that it will make a big difference to the global Open Access movement.
Hardy: We certainly hope the same. Really nice talking to you Ana!

Ana Enriquez is the Interim Head, Scholarly Communications and Copyright at the Penn State University Libraries. She has worked at the University of Michigan Library and at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard as the head teaching fellow for CopyrightX. She is a graduate of Berkeley Law and Harvard College (A.B. in history and literature). You can find Ana on Twitter:

 The interview was conducted by Hardy Schwamm, Open Scholarship Librarian at the University of Galway.