What is open data?

The term open data refers to a movement that recognizes the value of sharing (some) data in an increasingly data rich world. While there is a relation to the term open access in the academic publishing world, the two should not be confused.

Furthermore, it is recognized that not everything should be ‘open’ or ‘freely accessible’. Yet in certain cases, particularly with medical science and environmental data, the argument for open data is compelling indeed.

US government policy on open data

Many governments worldwide have adopted open data policies and the US government is not an exception.

  • In 2013 the Office of Science and Technology Policy issued a memo that mandates all federal agencies with more than $100M in R&D expenditures to “develop plans to make the published results of federally funded research freely available to the public within one year of publication and requiring researchers to better account for and manage the digital data resulting from federally funded scientific research.” (Holdren 2013).

Agency Responses to the OSTP Memo

Many federal agencies now have plans in place and others are still working to comply with the OSTP memo. Several good lists of agencies, their responses to the memo, and their DMP requirements are maintained at the links below:


Holdren, J. (2013). Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Scientific Research. Washington D.C.: Office of Science and Technology Policy. Last accessed from https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/ostp_public_access_memo_2013.pdf on December 3 2015.