IES Blog

Institute of Education Sciences

IES Releases a New Public Access Plan for Publications and Data Sharing: What You Need to Know

In 2011, IES took a first step towards supporting what was then a burgeoning open science movement—publication and data sharing requirements for awardees. This growing movement found its first government-wide footing in 2013 with the release of a memo from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) that provided guidance on the need for federally funded researchers to share publications and develop plans for sharing data.

Since that time, infrastructure and informational support for open science practices have continued to grow across federal funding agencies, and adherence to open science principles has evolved with them. In August 2022, OSTP released a new memo providing updated guidance on open science practices. The memo focused on equity, increasing public access to and discoverability of research, and establishing new data and metadata standards for shared materials.

In this blog post, Dr. Laura Namy, associate commissioner of the Teaching and Learning Division at NCER, and Erin Pollard, project officer for the Education Resources Information Center (ERIC) at NCEE, describe IES’s new Public Access Plan and address some important changes in requirements resulting from the new White House guidance for researchers receiving federal funding.

IES, in collaboration and consultation with other funding agencies, has been developing and implementing new policies and guidance to extend our commitment to open science principles. These new policies serve to support broader access among researchers, educators, and policymakers, as well as the general public whose tax dollars subsidize federally-funded research. The resulting changes will certainly require some adjustments and some learning, and IES will be offering guidance and support as these requirements are implemented.   

IES’s commitment to open science practices is already reflected in our Standards for Excellence in Education Research (SEER principles) and other expectations for awardees. These include—

  • Pre-registering studies
  • Uploading full text of published articles to ERIC
  • Submitting (and adhering to) a data management plan
  • Sharing published data
  • Including the cost of article processing charges (APCs) in project budgets to support publishing open access (OA)

The new policies reflect dual priorities: increasing both immediacy and equity of access. For current grant and contract awards, the requirements in place at the time that awards were made will still apply for the duration of those current awards. For each future award, Requests for Applications/Proposals (RFAs and RFPs), Grant Award Notices (GANs), and contracts will indicate the relevant public access/sharing requirements to identify which requirements are in place for the specific award.

Below are some important changes and what they mean for our IES-funded research community.

All publications stemming from federally funded work will have a zero-day public access embargo.

This means that an open access version must be available in ERIC immediately upon publication for all articles proceeding from federal research funding. The current 12-month grace-period before articles become fully available will be gone. Although we’ve seen this change coming, publishers of journals that are not already open access will need to adapt to this new normal, as will universities and many researchers who do not already routinely publish OA. 

What does this mean for IES-funded researchers? 

IES-funded researchers are already required to upload the full text of all articles to ERIC immediately after acceptance. Until now, ERIC released the full text within 12 months of publication. However, for all NEW grants awarded in fiscal year 2025 (as of Oct 1, 2024) and beyond, this zero-day public access embargo requirement will be in effect. Note that the relevant public access requirement depends on the year that the award was made, not the publication date of the article (for example, articles published in 2025 and beyond based on data collected through grants awarded before 2025 will still be under the 12-month embargo). IES awardees will need to ensure (either through your publisher or your own efforts) that a full-text version of the accepted manuscript or published article is uploaded to ERIC for release as soon as it is available online. To facilitate the transition, we encourage all awardees to publish their work in OA journals where feasible, and to budget for APCs accordingly. IES will provide additional guidance to support researchers in complying with this new requirement.

Data sharing will be required at time of publication, or if unpublished, after a certain time interval, whichever comes first.

This means that data curation and identification of an appropriate data repository will need to occur in advance of publication so that data can be shared immediately after publication rather than as a follow-along activity after publication occurs. Although funding agencies will vary in their sharing timelines, IES anticipates requiring data to be shared at time of publication or (for unpublished work) no later than 5 years after award termination. 

What does this mean for IES-funded researchers? 

All awardees who publish findings based on data collected under a new award made in fiscal year 2025 and beyond will need to release the reported data into a data repository at the time of publication. This calls for a change in data curation practices for many researchers who have focused on preparing their data for sharing post-publication. As noted above, any data that remain unshared 5 years post-award will need to be shared, even if publications are still pending. One best practice approach is to set up the data filesharing templates and curation plans in anticipation of sharing prior to data collection so that data are ready for sharing by the time data collection is complete (see Sharing Study Data: A Guide for Education Researchers). When multiple publications stem from the same data set, we recommend planning to share a single master data set to which additional data may be added as publications are released. Researchers should budget for data curation in their applications to support this activity.

Applications for IES funding have shifted from including a data management plan (DMP) to a data sharing and management plan (DSMP) to foreground the shift in emphasis to routine data sharing. Specific plans for sharing data, documentation, and analytic codes in particular repositories will need to be included. In anticipation of new requirements, we encourage researchers to move away from hosting data sets on personal websites or making them available solely upon request. DSMPs should identify an appropriate publicly available data repository. There is now guidance on Desirable Characteristics of Data Repositories for Federally Funded Research that should be followed whenever feasible. IES will be providing additional guidance on repository selection in the coming year. Principal investigators (PIs) and Co-PIs must be in compliance with data sharing requirements from previous IES awards in order to receive new awards from IES.

Unique digital persistent identifiers (PIDs) will need to be established for all key personnel, publications, awards, and data sets.

Digital object identifiers (DOIs) for journal articles are PIDs that uniquely identify a single version of a single publication and can be used to identify and reference that specific publication. This same concept is now being extended to other aspects of the research enterprise including individual researchers, grant and contract awards, and data sets. Unique PIDs for individuals facilitate tracking of individual scholars across name changes, institution changes, and career-stage changes. Having universal conventions across federal funding agencies for individuals, awards, and data sets in addition to publications will not only facilitate discoverability but will help to link data sets to publications, investigators to grants, grants to publications, etc. This will help both researchers and funders to connect the dots among the different components of your important research activities.

What does this mean for IES-funded researchers? 

All key personnel on new IES-funded projects are now required to establish an individual digital PID (such as ORCID) prior to award. DOIs will continue to be the PID assigned by publishers for publications. Authors reporting on IES-funded data should be vigilant about acknowledging their IES funding in all publications stemming from their IES grant awards. Coming soon, IES-funded researchers should be prepared for new digital PIDs (in addition to the IES-specific award numbers) associated with their grants to ensure consistency of PID conventions across funding agencies. New guidance for PID conventions for awards and data linked to IES-funding is forthcoming. 

The Bottom Line

These changes constitute an important step forward in increasing equitable access to and transparency about IES-funded research activities, and other federal funding agencies are making similar changes. The immediate changes at IES (establishing an individual PID and preparing a DSMP) are not onerous, and the bigger changes still to come (immediate sharing of publications and supporting data, using PIDs to refer to awards and data sets) will be rolled out with guidance and support. 

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with questions or concerns at Laura.Namy@ed.gov or Erin.Pollard@ed.gov. Or to learn more, please view the presentation and discussion of Open Science at IES that took place at the 2023 PI Meeting.