Can API Platforms Ensure Access to Federally Funded Research?

I came across this on the White House blog today, “Request for Information on Public Access to Digital Data and Scientific Publications”.

The America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010, signed by President Obama earlier this year, calls upon OSTP to coordinate with agencies to develop policies that assure widespread public access to and long-term stewardship of the results of federally funded unclassified research. Towards that goal, OSTP last week released two Requests for Information (RFI) soliciting public input on long term preservation of and public access to the results of federally funded research, including digital data and peer-reviewed scholarly publications.

The White House is now seeking additional insight from "non-Federal stakeholders, including the public, universities, nonprofit and for-profit publishers, libraries, federally funded and non-federally funded research scientists, and other organizations and institutions with an interest in long- term stewardship and improved public access to the results of federally funded research". Specifically the Working Group seeks further public comment on the questions listed below:

  1. What specific Federal policies would encourage public access to and the preservation of broadly valuable digital data resulting from federally funded scientific research, to grow the U.S. economy and improve the productivity of the American scientific enterprise?
  2. What specific steps can be taken to protect the intellectual property interests of publishers, scientists, Federal agencies, and other stakeholders, with respect to any existing or proposed policies for encouraging public access to and preservation of digital data resulting from federally funded scientific research?
  3. How could Federal agencies take into account inherent differences between scientific disciplines and different types of digital data when developing policies on the management of data?
  4. How could agency policies consider differences in the relative costs and benefits of long-term stewardship and dissemination of different types of data resulting from federally funded research?
  5. How can stakeholders (e.g., research communities, universities, research institutions, libraries, scientific publishers) best contribute to the implementation of data management plans?
  6. How could funding mechanisms be improved to better address the real costs of preserving and making digital data accessible?
  7. What approaches could agencies take to measure, verify, and improve compliance with Federal data stewardship and access policies for scientific research?
  8. How can the burden of compliance and verification be minimized?
  9. What additional steps could agencies take to stimulate innovative use of publicly accessible research data in new and existing markets and industries to create jobs and grow the economy?
  10. What mechanisms could be developed to assure that those who produced the data are given appropriate attribution and credit when secondary results are reported?
  11. Standards for Interoperability, Re-Use and Re-Purposing
  12. What digital data standards would enable interoperability, reuse, and repurposing of digital scientific data?
  13. For example, MIAME (minimum information about a microarray experiment; see Brazma et al., 2001, Nature Genetics 29, 371) is an example of a community-driven data standards effort.
  14. What are other examples of standards development processes that were successful in producing effective standards and what characteristics of the process made these efforts successful?
  15. How could Federal agencies promote effective coordination on digital data standards with other nations and international communities?
  16. What policies, practices, and standards are needed to support linking between publications and associated data?

As I was reading through these questions I can’t help think about the API service provider platforms that I review on a regular basis, and how APIs can be employed for opening up this research. Responses to this RFI will be accepted through January 12, 2012. I’m going to spend the holidays thinking about how APIs can best facilitate public access to this federally funded research, and I wanted to turn it into more discussion here on API Evangelist and see what others have to say.

As I answer each question I’m going to try and publish as separate blog post, feel free share your comments as I work through.