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  Latest News  
  January 24,  2005
Volume 83, Number 4
p. 10


  Open Access On Hold
NIH delays release of its plan to make research articles freely available



Release of the National Institutes of Health's final open-access policy--which contains a key change from the draft version--has been placed on an indefinite hold, according to a spokesman for the agency. Notice that the policy has been shelved arrived just hours before NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni was scheduled to release it on Jan. 11.

The delay in releasing the policy came as Michael O. Leavitt, the nominee to become secretary of the Department of Health & Human Services, prepared for his Senate confirmation hearings. Those hearings were scheduled to take place on Jan. 18 and 19. An NIH spokesman would not confirm or deny that the timing of the hearings had any impact on the decision to withhold the policy.

NIH unveiled a draft of its open-access policy last September for public comment (C&EN, Sept. 13, 2004, page 7). The agency received more than 6,200 responses, which were analyzed and factored into the final open-access policy now awaiting release.

A key change in the final policy involves the length of time between when an article describing research funded by NIH is published and when it would be posted on PubMed Central, NIH's free digital archive of biomedical research literature. According to the NIH spokesman, the time period described in the final policy is 12 months--twice as long as in the draft policy. This extension in posting time is a compromise meant to appease publishers who feared that they would lose subscribers under the six-months-to-posting time period.

The Association of American Publishers--an industry group that has been sparring with NIH over the open-access issue and that includes the American Chemical Society--declined to comment on the final policy until it is officially released by NIH.

  Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2005

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