The Trump White House is rumored to be working on a beefed-up open access mandate. The potential executive order would require all scientific papers that are based on federally funded research to be made available online free of charge as soon as they are published. That would supersede a 2013 rule issued by the Obama White House that required federally funded papers to become freely available one year after publication.
The White House hasn’t actually announced the new policy yet, but the rumors were enough to get the attention of scientific publishers. Last week more than 100 publishing organizations signed a letter calling on the Trump administration to scrap the proposal.
The letter warned that an open access mandate would “jeopardize the intellectual property of American organizations engaged in the creation of high-quality peer-reviewed journals and research articles.” Without the ability to charge the public for articles, scientific journals would have to pass those costs on to researchers or taxpayers, the letter warns.
There is undoubtedly some truth to that—many open access journals charge fees to authors. These fees range widely—from a few hundred dollars to several thousand. If the federal government mandated open access for all federally funded research, researchers would presumably see some increases in the fees they pay to publish their articles in top-tier journals.