Please Enable Javascript.

Expanding Access to NIST Research Results

Guest blog post by Katherine Sharpless, Open Access Officer at the National Institute of Standards and Technology


When U.S. taxpayers support research efforts at federal agencies, they should have access to the results of that research.

That’s the basic common sense approach that the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has adopted throughout its 114-year history. And as the nation’s measurement science and technology experts, NIST scientists, engineers, and other researchers publish about 1,300 peer-reviewed technical articles and about 200 reports each year to share those results.  

Companies, non-profits, universities, and other government agencies, in turn, routinely use NIST data, measurement methods, and standards to advance their own research efforts or improve their products and services.

So when the President’s Science Advisor, John P. Holdren issued a memorandum in Feb. 2013 on “Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Scientific Research,” it was in keeping with NIST’s well-established tradition of disseminating its results as widely as possible. NIST has long released its data and research results through not only scientific journals and reports, but also conference presentations, measurement standards, public databases, software, and patent disclosures.

What’s new about the memorandum and NIST’s specific response through its Public Access Plan is a strengthened commitment to comprehensive digital access to NIST scientific and technical research products. The plan describes NIST’s intention to make freely available—in publicly accessible repositories—all peer-reviewed scholarly publications and associated data arising from unclassified research funded wholly or in part by NIST. 

Within the constraints of its mission and funding, NIST will also promote the deposit of scientific data collected through unclassified research free of charge in publicly accessible databases.  (Some exceptions to the policy will remain, for example, for certain types of Standard Reference Data where licensing actually may enhance dissemination.) NIST’s Public Access Policy articulates the roles and responsibilities of NIST staff for ensuring public access.

NIST already has more than 35,000 of its journal articles and publications indexed on its website, including many in full text.  Nevertheless, NIST plans to partner with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and its existing PubMed Central (PMC) repository system to improve the ease of use, analysis, and comprehensiveness of its collection. NIST currently plans to provide public access to the full text of its scholarly research without charge no later than 12 months after publication, although NIST reserves the right to shorten or extend the embargo period. 

NIST’s Public Access Plan includes data management plans (DMPs) and an Enterprise Data Inventory (EDI). NIST generates data management plans that document plans for storage, archival, and accessibility for NIST’s numerous types of data. The EDI is a catalog of datasets with a user-friendly front end to enable NIST scientists to easily enter metadata about their datasets and an export capability to facilitate feeding that metadata into data.gov, where the public can discover it.

To enhance its ability to store, exchange, and disseminate its research data to external stakeholders and the public, as well as to share it between NIST technical staff and their immediate collaborators, NIST is making foundational improvements to its data management infrastructure. There are four prongs to this initiative:

1)      Analyze data management practices across NIST organizational units, document procedures, and build out flexible and extensible tools to support data management plans and the Enterprise Data Inventory;

2)      Create a robust data management framework for data of all working levels by extending cloud-based storage and network connectivity and deploying easy-to-use interfaces for the management of NIST data;

3)      Pilot development of a NIST public access data portal with improved interfaces, with particular focus on supporting Standard Reference Data; and

4)      Accelerate the identification, assessment, authorization, and deployment process for widely used software tools that support data exchange and research collaboration.

Providing access to NIST research results has always been a priority. With the digital tools now available and under development, it’s time to make sure the public can find those results easily and quickly and be able to use them.

Comments

Post new comment

(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.
Comment Policy

To ensure that everyone can participate in polite conversation, this blog is moderated. For detailed information on how and what we moderate, view our comment policy.

CAPTCHA
This question tests whether you are a human visitor and prevents automated spam submissions.
2 + 2 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.