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Scholarly Communication

Understanding the 2022 OSTP Public Access Memo

In August 2022, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released a memorandum on public access to federally funded research (known as “Nelson Memo”). This memo outlines new requirements that will affect both faculty and students who conduct research using federal funding. Some key points:

  • The goal of the Nelson Memo is to provide free, immediate (without embargo), and equitable access to research that is federally funded.

  • It applies to all federal agencies, including those providing funding in the Humanities & Social Sciences.

  • It applies to both peer reviewed publications and underlying scientific data.

Timeline and Key dates:

  • August 25, 2022, Nelson Memo published.

  • December 31, 2024, Deadline for agencies to publish final public access policies.

  • December 31, 2025, New policies become effective no later than this date.

Frequently Asked Questions

When might my research begin to be affected?

The memo requires that all agency policies will be in effect by December 31, 2025. It’s likely that most agencies will take the full amount of time to develop and prepare their policies and procedures. You can expect your research projects that receive funding in 2025 or later to be affected by any new policies or procedures that are developed in response to the memo.  

Does the new memo require me to publish as open access?

Not necessarily. Publishing as open access is only one way to provide immediate availability and accessibility to publications and data. Another way is to share the final manuscript in a repository that is designated by the funding agency (for example, PubMed, NIH's designated repository) or a repository that is managed by a trusted institution (for example, Princeton's Open Access Repository and Princeton Data Commons). However, depending on the publisher's self-archive policy, an author may not be able to share the final manuscript without embargo. If the publisher requires an embargo, you might need to choose a different publisher or choose to publish as open access, which may involve an Article Processing Charge (APC). 

While we await further policy development from federal agencies and reaction/response from publishers, if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact the Scholarly Communication Office at (general questions) or Princeton Research Data Service at (Research Data questions) for assistance.  

How do I know if my funding agencies are subject to this new policy?

The memo directs that all federal funding agencies will be subject to this new policy, the individual agencies will have discretion in policy development. lists the federal agencies that award grants.

Are there any existing policy examples that I can check out so I have an idea what a public access policy looks like?

Yes. provides a list of current U.S. Federal Agencies’ Public Access Plans that are subject to the 2013 OSTP memo