Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, January 12, 2008

New FAQ for new NIH policy

The NIH has completely revamped its home page on public access, and the accompanying FAQ, to reflect the new mandatory policy.  From the new FAQ:

Does the NIH Public Access Policy apply to me? 

The Policy applies to you if your peer-reviewed article is based on work in one or more of the following categories:

  1. Directly funded by an NIH grant or cooperative agreement active in Fiscal Year 2008 (October 1, 2007- September 30, 2008) or beyond;
  2. Directly funded by a contract signed on or after April 7, 2008;
  3. Directly funded by the NIH Intramural Program.
  4. If NIH pays your salary.

To what types of articles does the NIH Public Access Policy apply?

The Policy applies to all peer-reviewed journal articles, including research reports and reviews. The Policy does not apply to non-peer-reviewed materials such as correspondence, book chapters, and editorials....

Will compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy affect the outcome of the application review?

Compliance with the Public Access Policy is not a factor in the evaluation of grant applications. Non-compliance will be addressed administratively, and may delay or prevent awarding of funds....

Whose approval do I need to submit my article to PubMed Central?

Authors own the original copyrights to materials they write. Consistent with individual arrangements with authors' employing institutions, authors often transfer some or all of these rights to the publisher when the journal agrees to publish their article. Some publishers may ask authors to transfer copyrights for a manuscript when it is first submitted to a journal for review.

Authors should work with the publisher before any rights are transferred to ensure that all conditions of the NIH Public Access Policy can be met. Authors should avoid signing any agreements with publishers that do not allow the author to comply with the NIH Public Access Policy.

Federal employees always may submit their final peer-reviewed manuscript to PubMed Central, because government works are not subject to copyright protection in the United States.

Can NIH provide language that could be used in a copyright agreement between an author or institution and a publisher?

NIH can provide an example. Individual copyright arrangements can take many forms, and authors and their institutions should continue to manage such arrangements as they have in the past. However, in order to comply with the NIH Public Access Policy, you must make sure that the agreement allows the accepted peer-reviewed manuscript to be deposited with the NIH upon acceptance of publication and made available for public posting on PubMed Central no later than 12 months after journal publication....As an example, the kind of language that an author or institution might add to a copyright agreement includes the following:

"Journal acknowledges that Author retains the right to provide a copy of the final manuscript to the NIH upon acceptance for Journal publication, for public archiving in PubMed Central as soon as possible but no later than 12 months after publication by Journal."  ...

I plan to publish in an open access journal.  Do I have to submit my article?

Yes, unless the journal has an agreement to deposit its articles in PubMed Central.  Not all open-access journals have agreements with PubMed Central.  Check [here] to see which journals do....

My article is available on the publisher’s web site. Do I have to submit my article?

Yes, you must submit the article to PubMed Central. Articles available through publishers’ web sites do not fulfill the authors’ obligations under the NIH Public Access Policy.

Will NIH pay for publication costs?

Yes. The NIH will reimburse publication costs, including author fees, for grants and contracts on three conditions: (1) such costs incurred are actual, allowable, and reasonable to advance the objectives of the award; (2) costs are charged consistently regardless of the source of support; (3) all other applicable rules on allowability of costs are met....

Can authors and publishers continue to assert copyright in scientific publications resulting from NIH funding?

Yes. The NIH Public Access Policy does not affect the ability of the author, the author’s institution, or the publisher to assert ownership in the work’s copyright. Authors, consistent with their employment arrangements, may assign these rights to journals (as is the current practice), subject to the limited right that must be retained by the funding recipient to post the works in accordance with the Policy, or the provision that the journal submits the works in accordance with the Policy on the author’s behalf.

What is the difference between the NIH Public Access Policy and Open Access?

The Public Access Policy ensures that the public has access to the peer reviewed and published results of all NIH funded research through PubMed Central (PMC).  United States and/or foreign copyright laws protect most of the articles in PMC; PMC provides access to them at no cost, much like a library does, under the principles of Fair Use.

Generally, Open Access involves the use of a copyrighted document under a Creative Commons or similar license-type agreement that allows more liberal use (including redistribution) than the traditional principles of Fair Use.  Only a subset of the articles in PMC are available under such Open Access provisions.  See the PMC Copyright page, for more information....

How many publications arise from NIH funds each year?

We estimate that there are approximately 80,000 articles published each year that arise from NIH funds.

Comments.  There's some new information here and some helpful confirmation of earlier assumptions, conjectures, and predictions.  To summarize the most important:

  • New information:  The policy applies to some researchers who receive grants before April 7, 2008.  The NIH now estimates that its research results in 80,000 articles per year.  (The previous estimate was 65,000.)  If you don't have your calculator handy, that averages 219 articles per day.
  • Confirmation:  Non-compliance may "delay or prevent" the awarding of funds.  Grantees may use grant funds to pay publication fees at fee-based OA journals --as well as page charges at TA journals.  Grantees "must make sure" that copyright transfer agreements with publishers accommodate the NIH policy.  Grantees may hold copyright on their articles and transfer it to publishers, but all such transfers are "subject to the limited right that must be retained by the funding recipient to post the works in accordance with the Policy."  (If grantees follow the rules, publishers will never be able to complain that the policy violates their rights; publishers will never acquire the rights that dissemination through PMC might violate.)  PMC will remove price barriers but not permission barriers, and users may not exceed fair use.

Update.  To be more precise, the new policy will remove price barriers and not permission barriers for covered articles, limiting users to fair use.  But it doesn't follow that users are limited to fair use for all the contents in PMC.  Some full and hybrid OA journals that remove permission barriers deposit their OA articles in PMC, independently of the new policy.  (Thanks to Matt Cockerill for the reminder.)