President Obama has issued a US directive calling on all federal agencies with annual research and development budgets of $100m or more to provide free online access to the results of that research.
Articles reporting on publicly funded scientific research are to be made available after a 12-month embargo period.
The Association of Research Libraries officials has hailed the development as a "historic" one, according to Publishers Weekly. Meanwhile the Association of American Publishers, which opposed an open access bill recently introduced in Congress (the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act, or FASTR), said the White House proposal offered "a reasoned approach absent from the FASTR Act."
Heather Joseph, executive director of The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, which supports open access, called it a "landmark" development. "The Directive will accelerate scientific discovery, improve education, and empower entrepreneurs to translate research into commercial ventures and jobs," she said.
Worries about a slow international take-up of open access have been prominent among concerns expressed by UK academics and publishers.