Friday, November 2, 2007

Update: NIH Public Access Mandate

Although I realize this blog is a platform for bringing fellow staff up-to-speed on information gleaned from various meetings and conferences we attend, I wanted to take this opportunity to update everyone on recent Congressional action that, if signed into law, will have significant impact for our campus.

Last week, the
Senate passed an appropriations bill that includes language that would strengthen the current NIH Public Access Policy from a request to a mandate, making manuscript archiving in PubMed Central a condition of receiving NIH funding. In July, the House passed a similar bill also stipulating a mandate. Both bills are now in conference to be reconciled before being sent to the President. Unfortunately, due to disagreements over funding, the President has threatened to veto this bill. Although the veto threat is not over the proposed NIH Public Access Mandate, lobbyists are working hard to see that the mandate language is removed altogether. In fact, although they were withdrawn before the final Senate vote, publisher lobbyists were successful in persuading Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) to attach two amendments to the bill that would have rendered the mandate language null.

If this bill becomes law with the mandate provision intact, here is what you need to know:

  • The NIH Public Access Mandate would apply to any research article accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal (both traditional and open access journals) that stems from research funded in whole or in part by NIH awards
  • Authors would be responsible for ensuring that a copy of their final peer-reviewed manuscript (commonly known as a postprint) is archived in PubMed Central within 12 months of publication
  • The mandate would be fully compliant with existing U.S. copyright law, and although it would be wise for our faculty authors to retain their copyrights when publishing, they may still transfer their copyrights to publishers AND archive their postprints in PMC; approx. 70% of publisher policies already enable authors to archive postprints in either institutional or subject repositories; publisher archiving policies may be searched using the SHERPA-RoMEO database
  • Approx. 68% of all external research funding at WFUHS in the past five fiscal years came from NIH (this excludes any subcontract awards)
  • Currently, voluntary compliance to the NIH Public Access Policy by WFUHS faculty authors is consistent with the national average – around 5%; however, because publishers can also contribute publications to PMC, closer to 10% of WFUHS faculty-authored journal articles are freely accessible in PMC
  • In anticipation of a mandate, and to highlight papers already in PMC, a field for the PMCID (the unique identifier assigned to archived articles) has been added to the Faculty Publications input screen in PeopleSoft; by including the PMCID, users who search Fac Pubs will be able to link directly to those articles

Please see the November issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter for Peter Suber's recap of the NIH Public Access Policy/Mandate progress to date and explanation of what to expect in the future.

There has been interesting discussion about the NIH Public Access Mandate and its implications on the Liblicense listserv in recent days. You can read the archived discussion that took place in October here, and the ongoing discussion here. As you can imagine, confusion over this mandate and its effects on scholarly publishing is rampant, and debates over the necessity of open/public access mandates are rife with misinformation and misunderstanding. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me.

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