Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, January 12, 2008

More on the new NIH OA policy

Jocelyn Kaiser, NIH Announces Public-Access Policy, Science, January 11, 2008.  Excerpt:

Starting in April, most U.S. biomedical scientists will have to send copies of their accepted, peer-reviewed manuscripts to the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) for posting in a free archive. If they don't, they could have trouble renewing their grants or even lose research funding.

That's the gist of NIH's announcement today describing how it will carry out a new "public access" mandate....

Making sure that submissions comply with the journals' copyright policy is up to investigators and their institutions. The policy applies only to peer-reviewed research and reviews, not editorials or book chapters, NIH says.

To motivate scientists, NIH will require that investigators include the PubMed Central or NIH submission number for all applicable papers referenced in their grant applications and progress reports. Other possible ways of enforcing the policy include a call from an NIH program director and suspension of funds, says NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research Norka Ruiz Bravo. "We hope we're not going to get there," she says.

The public-access policy has long been controversial. Some researchers and publishers worry about confusion resulting from having two versions of the article online: the PubMed Central author manuscript, which hasn't been copyedited, and the published paper. Many publishers also fret that making articles free will cut into subscription income needed to run journals and fund society activities. The Association of American Publishers has warned that a mandatory policy "undermines" publishers’ copyright and is "inconsistent with" U.S. laws (Science, 11 January, p. 145). The association also says that the rule limits academic freedom by preventing researchers from publishing in journals that don't comply.

But most major biomedical research journals (including Science) already allow authors to submit manuscripts to PubMed Central, so the mandatory policy won't mean a big change. However, says Martin Frank, executive director of the American Physiological Society, journals will have to step up their policing by asking NIH to remove articles that have been mistakenly posted because they are still under embargo or are too old to fall under the policy.