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Saturday, September 04, 2004

How the September NIH OA plan differs from the July report plan

Here is my first take on the major differences between the July 14 report language from the House Appropriations Committee and the September 3 plan from the NIH:
  • The September plan drops the provision in the July report requiring that, if the NIH paid any part of the article's publication costs, then PubMed Central (PMC) would release the OA edition of the article immediately. The new plan simply says that the OA edition will appear six months after publication "or sooner if the publisher agrees".
  • The September plan gives new detail on exactly what grantees must deposit in PMC: "electronic copies of all final version manuscripts" accepted at peer-reviewed journals, when "final manuscript" is defined as "the author's version resulting after all modifications due to the peer review process." But then the September plan adds a new provision: "If the publisher requests, the author's final version of the publication will be replaced in the PMC archive by the final publisher's copy with an appropriate link to the publisher's electronic database."
  • The September plan gives new detail on what kind of NIH funding triggers the OA plan. The plan applies to NIH "grantees and supported Principal Investigators" and covers "all research grants, cooperative agreements, contracts, as well as National Research Service Award (NRSA) fellowships." The OA policy will apply to all articles whose underlying research "was supported in whole or in part by NIH funding."
  • The September plan drops the condition in the July report that the policy will only apply to articles accepted by a "scientific journal listed in the NLM's PubMed directory".
  • Finally, while the July report contained some background principles and goals of the House Appropriations Committee, the September plan articulates some goals and intentions of the NIH. I count at least these eight: (1) the goal to improve the health of Americans; (2) the goal "to share and support public access to the results and accomplishments of the activities that [the NIH] funds"; (3) the goal to improve access to scientific information for "other scientists, health care providers, students, teachers, and the many millions of Americans searching the web to obtain credible health-related information"; (4) the intention to "balance this need with the ability of journals and publishers to preserve their critical role in the peer review, editing and scientific quality control process"; (5) the intention to monitor the "economic and business implications" of the plan in order to avoid "compromising the quality of the information being provided"; (6) the intention to "maintain a dialogue with publishers, investigators, and representatives from scientific associations and the public to ensure the success of this initiative"; (7) the intention to monitor compliance with the new policy and to use compliance as one factor in evaluating subsequent applications for NIH funds; and (8) the intention to "consider options to ensure that grantees' budgets are not unduly affected by this policy", for example, by journals that impose "unreasonable or disproportionate charges" on grantees.

I just revised my FAQ on the NIH open-access plan to take some of these differences into account. I'll probably write about these and other differences in the next issue of SOAN.