Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, July 21, 2007

More on the NIH policy

NIH Policy Spurring Discussion of How Best to Ensure Public AccessLibrary Journal Academic Newswire, July 19, 2007.   Excerpt:

Three years and many battles after it was first proposed, the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) mandatory public access policy has gotten Congressional backing. But if increasing public access to research is the goal of the NIH, will the proposed policy be effective? Martin Frank, executive director of the American Physiological Society (APS), told the LJ Academic Newswire the 56 publishers and authors who signed on to the 2004 DC Principles for Free Access already make their articles freely available within 12 months of publication, so the net gain in access could be rather limited....

Individual authors, meanwhile, could have the greatest impact on public access, maintains the University of Southampton's Stevan Harnad, a researcher and pioneering advocate of author self-archiving...."An article whose final draft has been self-archived in the author's own institutional repository or an article that has paid for open access on the publisher's web site would be OA immediately," he observed, "It would only be the PubMed version that was embargoed."

Although critical of the NIH plan [for relying on central rather than distributed OA archiving], Harnad said he was not opposed to it and appreciates the public access principles behind it. "I still prefer it over the old policy or over no mandate at all," he told the LJ Academic Newswire....


  • The opening sentences suggest that this is the first time Congress has called for an OA mandate at the NIH.  But it's the second or third, depending on what you count. Congress asked for a mandate in July 2004, although the NIH didn't adopt one.  And last year the House adopted the same kind of mandate language it adopted this year, but the Senate never voted on it and the proposal died without a vote when the Democrats took over Congress and improvised a new one-time appropriations process.
  • If Martin Frank and the DCPrinciples Coalition believe that an OA mandate at the NIH will largely duplicate what publishers are already doing voluntarily, then is the Coalition willing to say in public that --apart from other issues-- an OA mandate would not kill their revenues, not kill their journals, and not kill peer review?