Confusions In The OSTP OA Policy Memo — Three Monsters And A Gorilla

David Wojick | The Scholarly Kitchen | February 25, 2013

The US Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), part of the Executive Office of the President, has issued a sweeping policy memo entitled, “Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Scientific Research.” It directs all federal research agencies to develop and implement open access (OA) plans over the next 2-3 years.

While the basic concepts presented in the memo are relatively simple, there are significant administrative complexities. Having worked on federal administrative procedure systems for many years, I will look at the OSTP OA mandate from that perspective, especially how it might affect publishers and authors. There are several big challenges which I call three monsters and a gorilla.

The three monsters all have to do with flexibility, and there is a lot of flexibility in the OSTP memo, possibly too much. What one might call the default administrative structure of the mandated OA system is pretty simple, but it is just an optional starting point for system design. (An OA system is an ongoing system of behavior including the required actions by publishers and authors, not a computer system — although it certainly includes computer systems.)