...During the course of the hearing, several issues were raised that I thought needed clarification and comment....
Setting the Record Straight on Public Access Policies in Other Countries
Some have suggested that the NIH public access policy requiring that manuscripts of scientific articles be made available for free access on the Internet is more conservative than similar policies in other countries. This is not the case. While public access policies in Canada, Australia and France have a 6-month embargo period, they are conditional policies that do not require authors to deposit their manuscripts.
The Canadian Institute of Health Research policy specifically states publications must be made freely accessible “where allowable and in accordance with publisher policies.” Australia’s public access policy “encourages researchers to consider the benefits of depositing their data and any publications,” rather than requiring deposit, making this policy voluntary....
Proponents of the NIH public access policy also argue that the NIH policy is more conservative than the policies adopted by private funding bodies that require authors to deposit their articles within six months of publication. It is important to note, however, that these private funding bodies such as Wellcome Trust, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, British Heart Foundation, and Arthritis Research Campaign provide either the authors or publishers funding of between $1,000 and $5,000 per article to help offset the cost of peer review and other publishing costs and make the articles free for public access. The NIH has made no such arrangements with publishers. It allows the grantee to use a portion of their grant funds to defray the publisher fees, but leaves the author paying from his or her own pocket when the grant period is over or when grant funds are used up for research....
Frank is right that some funder OA policies, even some using mandatory language, leave loopholes for publishers whose copyright policies do not allow OA on the funder's terms. But he leaves the false impression that no funders anywhere, except the NIH, close that loophole. In the article I published yesterday on the Conyers bill, I say more about the these two kinds of funder OA mandates (see the third bullet section) and list eight funders in the second category: the Arthritis Research Campaign (UK), Cancer Research UK, Department of Health (UK), Howard Hughes Medical Institute (US), Joint Information Systems Committee (UK), Medical Research Council (UK), Wellcome Trust (UK), and --for now-- by the National Institutes of Health (US).
He also confuses things by mixing together policies which merely request or encourage OA with policies that use mandatory language but allow exceptions or opt-outs. I admit that we don't have good vocabulary for all these variations on the theme and that the word "mandate" doesn't cover them all very well. But it goes without saying that the "request" policies are weaker than the "require" policies, and that there are many "request" policies. If the question is whether any funders outside the US have policies as strong or stronger than the NIH policy, then we should look past the "request" policies and focus on the "require" policies.
Frank acknowledges that some funder OA mandates use six month embargoes while the NIH allows a 12 month embargo. But he seems to think that only private funders fall into this category, or at least he only lists examples of private funders. However, the private funders in this category are outnumbered by the public funders and public-private partnerships: the Canadian Breast Cancer Research Alliance, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, European Research Council, Cancer Research UK, Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Executive Health Department, Department of Health (UK), Fund to Promote Scientific Research (Austria), Genome Canada, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Joint Information Systems Committee (UK), and the National Cancer Institute of Canada.
Nor does he mention that the NIH is the only medical research funder with an OA mandate, public or private, in any country, using an embargo longer than six months.
Frank acknowledges that the NIH allows grantees to use grant funds to pay publication fees at fee-based OA journals. But he doesn't mention that it allows the grant funds to cover publication costs at both OA or TA journals. Nor does he mention that the NIH pays out $100 million/year for this purpose.
Peter Suber at 10/03/2008 02:03:00 PM.
The open access movement:
Putting peer-reviewed scientific and scholarly literature
on the internet. Making it available free of charge and
free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.
Removing the barriers to serious research.