“The long-standing debate over open access to research results has been marked by a geographic divide. In Europe, some public funders have launched a high-profile open-access initiative, dubbed Plan S, that would ultimately require grantees to publish only in journals that immediately make papers free to all. But in the United States, federal agencies have stuck to a decade-old policy that allows grantees to publish in journals that keep papers behind a paywall for up to 1 year. Now, the divide is starting to blur, with one prominent U.S. research program starting to require immediate open access to the peer-reviewed publications it funds.
The policy is part of the Cancer Moonshot program at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Bethesda, Maryland, the 7-year, $1.8 billion research initiative spearheaded in 2016 by then–Vice President Joe Biden after his son Beau died of brain cancer. Biden felt that broader data sharing would speed cancer research, and after hearing from open-access advocates he backed the concept for all cancer research papers. In a 2016 speech, Biden told the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR): “Imagine if… we said we will no longer conceal cancer’s secrets in… paywalled journals with restricted databases, and instead make all that we know open to everyone so that the world can join the global campaign to end cancer in our lifetimes?”
NCI officials embraced that idea, and drafted rules that require moonshot grantees to submit a plan for making their publications “immediately and broadly available to the public.”…
That is a big change from the current policy at the National Institutes of Health, NCI’s parent agency. NIH requires only that final papers be available through NIH’s full-text PubMedCentral site within 12 months of publication—a delay that publishers cherish, saying that it safeguards subscription revenues and keeps journals viable….
Singer says that, for now, NCI won’t expand the moonshot’s open-access requirement to other programs run by the $5.7 billion institute. “We consider this a pilot program and depending on [its] success … we’ll determine the next steps,” she says. But Heather Joseph, executive director of the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition in Washington, D.C., hopes the agency will go further….”