Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) generate data and author publications that lead to advances in diverse fields such as materials science, medicine, forensic science, cybersecurity and firefighting. Results of NIST research also help U.S. industries improve their products, comply with regulations and compete internationally.
Because NIST research data and publications represent a valuable national resource, the agency always has emphasized broad dissemination of this information, but the options for public access have changed with time and technology. Recent direction from the White House has led NIST to develop a formal plan to manage public access to its data resources.
The new data access plan was developed with input from other federal agencies and from two public meetings at the National Academy of Sciences on public access to federally supported research data and publications. The document outlines new responsibilities and procedures to ensure NIST materials are made available to the public.
A notice published in the Federal Register asks for feedback from potential users of NIST's research data and publications and to answer specific questions about best practices, challenges and prioritizing public access to data, as well as specific input on how to improve the plan.
The plan applies to research data generated beginning Oct. 1, 2014, and publications published after Oct. 1, 2015. Research funded by NIST through grants, contracts and other agreements will have public access requirements incorporated into the award terms and conditions. Datasets will be made discoverable through Data.gov, home of the U.S. government's open data. Journal articles and other publications that currently are available through the publishers' websites or the NIST website will now also be available at the National Institutes of Health PubMed Central and the Government Publishing Office's Federal Digital Systems.
To view the NIST Plan for Providing Public Access to the Results of Federally Funded Research and learn more about open data at NIST, visit www.nist.gov/data. Comments will be accepted through August 21, 2015, and will help to inform NIST's policies and procedures.