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White House seeks „Open Science” Champions of Change

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I recently wrote about new initiative – The Accelerating Science Award Program  in which Google, PLOS and Wellcome Trust with other organizations were looking for people who have used, applied, or remixed scientific research — published through Open Access — in order to realize innovations in science, medicine, and technology to reward them with $ 30,000 prize for their efforts. It seems that the OA awards season has just begun and another competition is in line – this one initiated big time by the White House.

The White House launched a new program: “Open Science” Champions of Change to highlight outstanding individuals, organizations, or research projects promoting and using open scientific data and publications to accelerate progress and improve the world. The nominations will be accepted until May 14th, 2013 and the event will take place on June 20th . What is the goal of this program? As we can read on the official webpage:

“We are asking for your help to identify “Open Science” Champions of Change—outstanding individuals, organizations, or research projects promoting and using open scientific data for the benefit of society. For example, a Champion’s work may involve:

  • Providing free access to data or publications generated from scientific research;
  • or
  • Leading research that uses publically available scientific data.”


This program is another step for the White House to embrace Open Access policy. Two months ago the White House delivered a new Open Access policy to direct federal agencies to make all scientific papers supported government funding publicly available. Meanwhile the Congress is working on the bill The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR) which aims to provide free public access to the results of research funded from federal sources. As I wrote recently, California decided to not wait for the federal government to take this step and is working on its own bill for Open Access.

These examples show that Open Access is not only developing fast on the US universities but also is discussed and implemented at government level. This is a good sign. Open Access needs governmental policies and support of public funds. Publishing in OA in the long run cannot be paid by researchers and scholars from their own money. Although universities and institutions introduce OA policies, without public funds directed to OA, Open Access programs will always be incomplete and not appealing enough for prospective authors.

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