Last week the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released a Federal Register notice seeking comments on its open access data policy. (As of this writing the most recent version is dated July 23, 2015.) Comments are due by November 6.
The policy is in response to the Administration’s initiative to establish open access policies for research results and research data generated through federal funding. Research funded by the VA involves a lot of confidential patient information, and the access policy devotes many pages to detailing how best to ensure access to research results that also preserves – as much as possible – the privacy of patients in clinical trials and related research. This means that the agency (much like many others required to comply with this policy) will be doing a lot of work over the next few years to implement new data storage and access systems.
To that end, while the agency will allow for public access to research results starting no later than December 31, 2015, such access will not be unrestricted until at least December 31, 2016. Even
As might be expected from a (comparatively) smaller research agency, the VA will take advantage of existing repositories for their research results. They are working with the National Institutes of Health to have VA funded research results deposited in PubMed Central. Articles will have to be deposited in that repository within 12 months of publication. Clinical trial results will have to be deposited in the database at clinicaltrials.gov.
Each researcher applying for VA funds will have to submit a data management plan that includes how the research data will be preserved and made available for public access.
There are no questions attached with the request for comment, but interested parties with their own questions and/or suggestions for how to refine the plan, increase the ease of implementation, and other ideas, should go ahead and submit them by November 6.