Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, January 25, 2008

More on the new NIH OA mandate

Kimberly K. Barlow, NIH mandates open access to researchers' publications, University of Pittsburgh University Times, January 24, 2008.  (Thanks to Heather Joseph.)  Excerpt:

...Pitt, which in fiscal year 2006 received 1,082 individual NIH grants totaling $447 million — 6th nationally among academic institutions and their affiliates — is paying particular attention to the new requirements.

Michelle S. Broido, associate vice chancellor for basic biomedical research and director of Pitt’s Office of Research, Health Sciences, sent a memo Jan. 15 to all Pitt health sciences faculty to alert them of their new responsibilities.

In addition, the Health Sciences Office of Academic Career Development has scheduled a program at 3 p.m. March 18 in Scaife Hall auditorium 6 entitled, “Preparing for Critical Changes in Scholarly Publishing: How Will Open Access Impact You?”that will examine various open-access initiatives....

Broido...speculated that the journals submitting articles to PubMed Central on behalf of their authors could see a temporary uptick in investigators’ interest in their publications until more come aboard....“Journals are going to understand if they want the high-quality science supported by NIH, they will probably join in the list of publications that have already agreed to the process.”

Barbara Epstein, director of Pitt’s Health Sciences Library System, noted that because submission to PubMed Central now is required by NIH, the publishers can’t obstruct it. “They can help the authors more or they can help the authors less,” she said, agreeing that the more helpful journals are likely to look more attractive to researchers....

[Epstein] said NIH’s move is the first public access mandate for a publicly funded agency and it is hoped that others will follow suit. “The library community is certainly very happy that it now has become mandatory,” she said....

While library groups have been active advocates for the measure, publishers understandably have not been as enthusiastic, Epstein said, noting that some journal publishers fear open access will cut into journal sales and impact their revenue.

“It’s not clear that’s going to happen,” Epstein said, noting for example that Pitt is unlikely to be able to cut its subscriptions to core journals. “Our user community is not willing to wait a year to get access to information,” she said.

In addition, not everything contained in journals will appear in PubMed Central. Library users still will want access to other material such as non-NIH funded research, editorials and supplemental information found in the journals, Epstein pointed out. She said the biggest impact would be on the large community of users who are not affiliated with a university or a research library. These users must purchase copies from the journals or go through public libraries (with the expense of interlibrary loans) to gain access, she said. “This really benefits the larger public of the United States who are getting access to research funded by their tax dollars.”