Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, March 09, 2007

More on the HHMI-Elsevier deal

Rick Weiss, Health Findings From Institute To Be Free Online, Washington Post, March 9, 2007. 

Activists who believe that the results of federally funded research ought to be available free to the public won a victory this week with a deal that will ensure Web posting of studies financed by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

The Chevy Chase-based institute, which pumps $600 million a year into biomedical research, cut the deal with Elsevier, a Dutch publisher of science journals. Elsevier will post on the Web the manuscripts of all research involving Howard Hughes investigators, six months after the information appears in its journals.

In the past, Elsevier has said that free posting even after a year would undermine its subscriber base. The agreement offsets that risk by having the medical institute pay $1,000 to $1,500 per article.

Advocates praised the arrangement and said they hope to get legislation passed this year to mandate similar rules for all publicly funded research. Taxpayers should not have to subscribe to expensive journals, they say, to see results they have paid for.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) is expected to reintroduce legislation that would require free posting of government-funded research. Congress has been considering adding that requirement to the National Institutes of Health appropriations bill.


  1. This is the upside of the deal --free online access for early versions of Elsevier articles by HHMI-funded authors six months after publication.  For the downside, see my blog comments yesterday. 
  2. Yesterday we didn't know size of the fees that HHMI would be paying Elsevier.  The $1,000 and $1,5000 fees are much smaller than the $3,000 and $5,000 fees the Wellcome Trust is paying Elsevier in a similar but not identical deal struck last fall.  But they are still considerably larger than necessary to get what HHMI wanted from this deal.