We applaud the recent US White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) memorandum on ensuring free, immediate, and equitable access to federally funded research. The updated policies requiring public access to peer-reviewed publications and research data will bring many benefits to the US and the global research community. We thank the OSTP for its leadership in driving open science practices.
We particularly support implementations (including models such as Subscribe to Open and Green and Diamond Open Access approaches) that ensure researchers have equitable access to publishing as well as reading content. We also encourage agencies to promote the use of Creative Commons licenses, as this is necessary for true Open Access.
ASAPbio has a mission to accelerate the communication of life sciences research and this goes hand in hand with timely and unrestricted access to research outputs. We thus share the OSTP’s vision on the benefits that access to research publications and data will deliver. ASAPbio promotes the productive use of preprints to enable prompt communication of research. Preprints played a critical role in the sharing of research findings that informed a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with major breakthroughs related to vaccine development or treatments communicated first via preprints. Beyond the pandemic, and as the OSTP ‘Economic Landscape of Federal Public Access Policy’ report discusses, researchers in many disciplines increasingly rely on preprint repositories to keep abreast of the latest developments in their fields or to gain access to relevant publications.
Preprints provide a valuable tool to enable the policy principles articulated in the OSTP memorandum. Preprints promote scientific and research integrity by enabling researchers to share their work at any stage of the research process, opening opportunities for collaboration and for community feedback that can strengthen the work and identify omissions or errors. This supports greater reproducibility and integrity across the research cycle, including the time at which the work is published in a peer-reviewed journal. Furthermore, because preprints are free to post and free to access, they ensure equitable access to the research findings without any financial barriers.
In addition, preprints allow innovation in publication modalities, in peer review, and in how we define a peer-reviewed publication. A number of platforms provide reviews on preprints, creating peer-reviewed publications which can be accessed via preprint repositories separately from journals, in a timely, free and equitable way. eLife’s new editorial process will likely extend the number of these reviewed preprints considerably. These objects are already recognized in a new European Molecular Biology Organization policy redefining eligibility criteria for postdoctoral fellowships, as well as in a statement from the 30+ funding agencies that constitute cOAlition S. Along these lines, we invite the OSTP and federal agencies to consider designating preprints with reviews as one of the mechanisms that researchers can use to fulfill the requirements of the policy.
We strongly support the OSTP’s call for immediate and equitable access to research data and publications. Its implementation will require a diversity of avenues to enable access and we view preprints as an important vehicle towards those goals. We also invite recognition for the diversity of works researchers produce beyond traditional publications (data, preprints, software, methods, reviews, notebooks and more). This is a necessary step to increase scientific integrity, transparency and trust.