ASBMB statement on House committee letter to OSTP on open-access next steps

Oct. 24, 2022

The leaders of the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology sent a letter on Oct. 18 to the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy requesting more information on how the office plans to implement new requirements outlined in its August memo titled “Ensuring Free, Immediate and Equitable Access to Federal Funded Research.” 

The letter by Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas., and Frank Lucas, R-Okla., the chair and ranking member of the committee, respectively, echoed many concerns raised by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and others in the scientific community about the OSTP memo. Those concerns relate to, for example, the costs of open-access publishing and who pays them, how existing data repositories will be affected and what sort of new ones will be needed, and, importantly, how the government defines scientific data. 

As the ASBMB explained in September, the organization supports making publications resulting from publicly funded research accessible to all without embargo. In fact, doing so is essential for scientific advancement. However, switching to open access will be costly to publishers, and many are likely to offload that price tag onto their scientists, who already are facing financial constraints while running their labs and supporting the next generation of scientists.  The ASBMB wrote then: “Scientists are struggling to keep their labs running; graduate students and postdoctoral researchers need a livable wage; and lab supplies are becoming more expensive. Meanwhile, federal grants have only half of the spending power they had 20 years ago.” 

The ASBMB supports the recommendation by Johnson and Lucas that the OSTP “initiate a second round of stakeholder engagement and conduct public workshops …to address critical implementation issues.” 

The ASBMB publishes three fully open-access, peer-reviewed journals, and has extensive knowledge and deep understanding of the challenges associated with switching to gold open access. We urge the OSTP to engage with us and other stakeholders who can provide vital input to ensure an equitable and smooth transition to open access.