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Copyright: Current Topics

Understanding the 2022 OSTP Public Access Memo

The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released a memorandum on public access (known as “Nelson Memo”) in August 2022. 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: OTSP/Nelson Memo published
  • February 21, 2023: Draft public access policy implementation plans due for federal agencies with more than $100 million in annual research and development (R&D) expenditures.
  • August 20, 2023: Draft public access policy implementation plans due for federal agencies with less than $100 million in annual R&D expenditures.
  • December 31, 2024: Final public access policy implementation plans due. Agencies must publish their final policies addressing all requirements outlined in the memo. Policies will go into effect no later than 1 year after they're published.
  • December 31, 2025: New policies will be in effect no later than this date.

Possible options for compliance:

  • Publish in open access journals
  • Deposit in approved preprint repositories is being considered. 

Some of the top federal funders have posted preliminary plans for compliance.

Some journal publishers allow submissions of works that were originally in preprint servers and some do not.

Preprint servers provide different services and have different search capabilities.

Intellectual Property Considerations

  • Preprints are not "Published"
  • Preprints are "Publicly Disclosed"
  • Author retains copyright privileges for their preprint. [Confirm with preprint repository terms and conditions prior to submitting preprint.]

Source: American Society for Engineering Education, Engineering Libraries Division. (2024). Preprint Repositories for the Engineering Researcher, April 23, 2024.



Artificial Inelligence

Ensure that you have the needed copyright permissions prior to using any artificial intelligence tools on the copyrighted work(s). Generative AI tools can infringe on a copyright owner's exclusive rights by producing derivative works.


With the rapid development of artificial intelligence since late 2022, libraries are receiving license amendment and new agreements with verbiage to defining rights and restrictions related to the use of AI. The clauses often forbid users to use AI tools in combination with their electronic content (e-journals, e-books, e-news, databases, etc.). As a result, do NOT use AI tools to train an algorithm, test, process, analyze, generate output and/or develop any form of artificial intelligence tools using library subscribed or purchased content. Library vendors are incorporating AI into their search engines to enhance users' search experience of their products.