Washington Update

FASEB Encourages USDA to Develop Flexible Clear Frameworks for Public Access

By: Darla Henderson
Wednesday, November 15, 2023
On November 10, FASEB submitted written comments to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regarding the agency’s plan for increasing public access to results of USDA-funded research. FASEB’s comments connected the importance of flexible options for researchers to meet public access with the established and growing importance of scientific integrity and the central nature of ensuring policies and practices consider equity and accessibility.

FASEB encouraged USDA to develop flexible, clear frameworks and coordinate across federal agencies. Flexibility for both institutions and individual researchers will enable the agency to best facilitate the transition to the variety of models that are emerging, to recognize the different impacts on various stakeholders, and to ensure compliance. Charts outlining the variety of funding paths available for publications and data within research grants could reduce researcher confusion. Recognizing that individual researchers have different resources and options available within the scientific research ecosystem is an important first step to ensuring equity and accessibility.

FASEB comments point to the need to provide both training resources and incentives for researchers, notably on the data management and sharing front. Scientific societies are partners for federal agencies in a variety of ways, including collecting stakeholder feedback to identify needs, developing and implementing training, incentivizing researchers through established and new awards programs, and enacting culture change. 

FASEB highlighted the importance of USDA leveraging existing infrastructures where feasible to avoid taxing the budget and diverting from the important research activities. FASEB applauded the adoption of persistent identifiers such as ORCIDs and DOIs, as well as USDA’s decision to leverage an established generalist repository as a supplement to USDA’s existing infrastructure. Using persistent identifiers that are established by and adopted by the community improves connections across the ecosystem including grant awards, publications, data, and other materials, and allows a broader view of the real impact of research grants.