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U.S. News

NIH Proposes Free Access for Public to Research Data

September 8, 2004

Under a new proposed policy posted Friday on the Web site of the National Institutes of Health, all scientists who receive NIH funding would be required to make their research results available to the public for free. NIH will accept public comments on the policy for 60 days.

Patient advocates have been lobbying for the shift; the scientific publishing community opposes it. Publishers say the move could drive some journals out of business and bankrupt some scientific societies that fund their research and education efforts with journal profits.

A report this summer by the House Appropriations Committee gave momentum to the move toward open access. "The committee is very concerned that there is insufficient public access to reports and data resulting from NIH-funded research," which the report said is "contrary to the best interests of the U.S. taxpayers who paid for this research." The report, though non-binding, gave NIH the political backing to develop a system it had been leaning toward for more than a year.

After meetings with publishers, patient advocates and scientists, NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni said he concluded that publishers' arguments about how much the change would harm them or cost the government were "way out of line" with reality.

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Under the proposal, researchers would submit their papers to NIH after they had been accepted and edited by a journal. By making submission the researcher's responsibility, NIH hopes to avoid the prospect of telling the journals to share the papers. NIH would not make the articles public for six months to give the journals time to profit from them. After that, they would be available for free on PubMed Central, NIH's Web-based database.

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) heads the Senate appropriations subcommittee that oversees NIH. He said he has concerns about open access and would not add supportive language to the Senate appropriations bill. Specter added, however, that he likes the open-access principle and hopes a reasonable policy will emerge from the public-input period.

Back to other news for September 8, 2004

Adapted from:
Washington Post
09.06.04; Rick Weiss



  
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
 

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