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Monday, July 02, 2007

NIEHS re-commits to its OA journal

NIEHS vows "full support" of journal; skeptics wait for check to clear, Society of Environmental Journalists WatchDog TipSheet, June 29, 2007.  (Thanks to Mike Lotz.)  Excerpt:

Top leaders at the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences reversed field and publicly promised full support for the institute's embattled peer-reviewed [PS: and open-access] journal June 27, 2007, as an ethics scandal involving the institute's director metastasized.

"We are committed to full support of the journal within our appropriated funds," said NIEHS' William J. Martin, who has assumed responsibility for the journal, Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP), after Director David Schwartz was recused in January 2007 from decisions relating to it.

The apparent reversal came as a second congressional investigation into Schwartz's conduct at the helm of NIEHS was revealed, and the Washington Post published an account [June 27, 2007] of ethics violations by Schwartz....Those revelations came on the same day NIEHS held a "roundtable" discussion session with "stakeholders" on the future of the EHP journal. The Society of Environmental Journalists participated in that session. SEJ has opposed privatization or downsizing of the journal....

At the roundtable meeting NIEHS and NIH leaders voiced commitments to funding the journal at or above a "steady state" level of $3.5 million...and guaranteeing free "open access" by the public to the contents of the journal....

The Request for Proposals (RFP) publicly posted June 27 was significantly revised from one issued earlier, in October 2006. One key difference was stronger and more explicit requirements that the current "open access" publishing model be continued. Free public access to all journal content proposed in 2003 and begun in 2004 is an important principle supported by SEJ and open government groups.

The RFP states that the journal contents will continue to be placed in PubMed [PS:  PubMed Central?], NIH's online database which offers free public access to the full text or journals. Placing it in PubMed will also guarantee continued free public access to all archived content from EHP....

The RFP specifies that a key part of the contractor's job is "providing free full-text access to all scientific articles with DOI numbers within 24 hours of the article being accepted for publication."

The new RFP differs from the October 2006 RFP, which urged the contractor to "maximize" revenues, and did not explicitly forbid charging for online content....

PS:  For background, see my earlier blog posts on Environmental Health Perspectives.