What’s going on with the Nelson Memo?

In August of 2022, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued Guidance to Make Federally Funded Research Freely Available Without Delayguidance now commonly referred to as the Nelson Memo. The purpose of the memo was to ensure that the products of all taxpayer-funded research—including publications and data sets—become immediately and freely accessible to the public.

The Nelson Memo policies are still in development at each funding agency. The House has submitted a budget bill that defunds the Nelson Memo and prevents its implementation, but the budget process is stalled and this issue is expected to be resolved in a future reconciliation process.

Assuming the Nelson Memo is implemented as expected, we are in a wait-and-see situation for specific agency policies. Researchers may have questions about what your grant will require, how to comply with those requirements, and whether complying will cost money.

Will I have to pay money to comply with Nelson Memo policies?

Beware that some commercial publishers are circulating misleading information about agency requirements, implying that compliance depends on paying expensive fees. This is not true! As of now, no agency’s draft policy is requiring a researcher-paid, publisher-based Open Access publishing model (i.e., an APC model) in order to comply. All draft policies will allow free deposit of a preprint version of your article (also known as self-archiving) in a publicly-accessible repository. For more information about how to do this, see our Guide to Repositories here.

How do I know what my granting agency will require of me?

Stay tuned to your granting agencies’ policy updates to stay abreast of what is required of you

and when. The effective date for the new, official policies varies by agency, but all new policies must go into effect by the end of 2025. The agencies of interest to you may be conducting calls for public input on draft policies. See SPARC’s 2022 Updated OSTP Policy Guidance for real-time updates on all draft agency policies as they are released, and how to provide feedback on each draft policy.

JH Libraries are creating ways to help researchers understand and comply with these and other new governmental regulations for grant-recipients. An example project is the upcoming reboot of PASS, and another is Data Services’ work supporting the new NIH data sharing


Remember, as far as we know now, all agency policies will allow researchers to use free OA routes to comply with grant mandated public access. If the draft policies stay as they are, all researchers will have a no-cost option to deposit a version of their works in a designated repository, and JH Libraries can help!

How can I get help?

If you have concerns, questions, or suggestions for how JH Libraries can better support your work and help you comply with grant mandates, please email scholcomm@jh.edu.