How Is “CHORUS” Aiding Public Access to Federally Funded Research?

In February 2013, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued a policy memorandum directing:

“Federal agencies with more than $100M in R&D expenditures to develop plans to make the published results of federally funded research freely available to the public within one year of publication, and requiring researchers to better account for and manage the digital data resulting from federally funded scientific research.”

Plans were requested to be presented to the OSTP within six months.

Several publishing organizations, along with support from the Association of American Publishers (AAP), collaborated to develop the Clearinghouse for the Open Research of the United States (CHORUS), with a pilot project launched in September 2013.

Benefiting All Stakeholders

The press release from the AAP announcing the launch of CHORUS as an “independent, not-for-profit public-private partnership,” outlined a wide range of benefits over and above compliance to the OSTP directive:

  • It serves the public by creating a streamlined, cohesive way to expand access to peer-reviewed articles reporting on federally funded research.
  • It provides a full solution for federal funding agencies to comply with the White House Office of Science and Technology memo on public access to results of federally funded research.
  • It builds on publishers’ existing infrastructure and services to enhance access, avoid duplication of effort, minimize cost to the government, and ensure the continued availability of the research literature.
  • It takes advantage of current and developing tools; resources; and protocols for discoverability, search, archiving, and preservation.

Hitting the Ground Running

After the initial pilot, the service went live in July 2014 with over 100 signatories including representatives from both non-profit and commercial publishers. Leveraging CrossRef’s FundRef registry, any research article submitted for publication with a participating publisher that is tagged by the author, as having received funding from a federal agency covered by the OSTP directive, will trigger free public access to the article upon publication.

Chorus has also developed applications to track utilization and to ensure compliance to the OSTP directive. The system has been built on proven infrastructure, and since it is able to use publishers’ existing journal platforms, there is no cost to make the research data freely available to the public in accordance with the OSTP mandate, other than CHORUS membership fees paid by the publishers. To put that in context, annual membership fees range from $1,000 for total annual publishing revenue <$5 million, up to $50,000 for >$500 million.

Who Benefits Most

There is a clear argument for benefits gained by all stakeholders in this partnership: authors simply have to identify the funding source of their research; the federal funding agencies and publishers have access to a streamlined compliance solution; and readers gain access to federally funded research results for free through existing search channels such as Google or PubMed Central, without the additional expense of journal subscription fees.

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