Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Public Access to NIH-Funded Publications - Proposed "Research Works Act" Removes Requirement

Do you know that articles based on NIH-funded research must currently be made available free to the public within 1 year of publication? PubMed Central is the repository for that, and many of you have benefitted when you do a MEDLINE search by discovering a PMC link to free full text.

A bill currently in the House would forbid NIH from requiring that these tax-supported papers be deposited. The Research Works Act is funded by -- guess who -- the Association of American Publishers. They say that releasing an article after a year denies them fair compensation, although the peer-review process is mostly done by volunteers.

The New York Times includes an opinion piece on this topic in the Jan.10, 2012, issue: Research Bought, Then Paid For by Michael B. Eisen, a founder of PLoS, the Public Library of Science. He recommends publishing in open access journals such as theirs rather than supporting commercial publishers. In this model, authors (or their institutions) whose papers are published pay a fee if accepted.

Kevin Smith, Duke University's Scholarly Communications Officer, suggested that authors should begin to consider separating print and digital copyright releases, selecting a user-friendly publisher for the electronic version (Breaking Technology, 1-5-2012, in his blog Scholarly Communications @ Duke).

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