Publishing Ethics: Federal Mandates

Written by Joseph Koivisto


This past Monday (July 8), I attended the George Washington University’s Ethics & Publishing Conference. In attendance were representatives from the publishing industry (large and small presses), university librarians, and what I gathered were about twenty students from the GW Publishing program. While the main focus of the conference was the intricacies of ethics in the publishing industry, some of the presenters discussed some fascinating topics that I thought might be worth sharing. So, here’s my wrap up of a few of the presenters:

You have a federal mandate and no budget, now what?:  One of the first presentations of the day was from Geneva Henry, the new university librarian and vice provost for libraries at George Washington, entitled “Public Policy and Library Stewardship of Publications.” She discussed the Office of Science and Technology Policy federal mandate which, if you don’t already know, was issued on February 22nd of this year and indicates that any federal agency that has an R&D budget of $100 million or more must make any federally-funded research results publicly available.

The purpose of this mandate is to increase levels of transparency and accountability in terms of fund use, but also seeks to promote intellectual sharing and dissemination of research results to scholars and researchers the nation over. So, the mandate declares that data management plans must be made in order to facilitate the digital curatorial, archival, preservative, and dissemination activities at the research facilities that receive federal funding.

In order to meet the mandate, a couple DMPs have begun to emerge, namely SHARE and CHORUS.

SHared Access Research Ecosystem (SHARE) is being drafted by the Association for Research Libraries, Association of American Universities, and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities and establishes a full-lifecycle model implements OSTP requirements by using such curatorial tools as FEDORA Commons, ORCID, MetaArchive, DSpace, LOCKSS, CLOCKSS, and more (flashbacks to Dr. Zhang’s Digital Curation, anyone?). There is a proposal draft that you might find interesting.

While SHARE is being created by library and university organizations, Clearinghouse for the Open Research of the United States (CHORUS) is being established with the support of the Association of American Publishers. Ms. Henry expressed a bit of concern on this matter because it seems that the CHORUS model would perpetuate negative elements of the current scholarly publishing environment. In CHORUS, the publishers would remain in control of the publication and dissemination of research information and would also retain control of embargo periods. Additionally, CHORUS does not promote a high level of data reuse (analysis, data mining, etc.)

The larger question that the competing models raise is the question of who should be the steward of research data: the universities and researchers that produce the information or the publishers that currently control the means of production? This is not an easy question to answer.

As institutions move towards compliance, we can expect that the digital curatorial needs of university libraries will only continue to rise. Keep an eye out for news of new DMP implementations at research institutions.

Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that the federal government will not provide any additional funding for this massive undertaking? But that’s a different conversation.


Stay tuned for additional posts:

  • Do you own what you own and just how do you own it?:
  • So, Just what is your carbon footprint?:

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