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March 24, 2008
Volume 86, Number 12
p. 14


NIH Seeks Input On Public Access

Research agency holds meeting to hear from stakeholders

Susan Morrissey

NIH HOSTED A PUBLIC MEETING last week to hear from stakeholders about the agency's implementation of its mandatory public-access policy. The policy, which takes effect on April 7, will require all journal articles resulting from NIH-funded research to be submitted to PubMed Central for public posting within 12 months of publication (C&EN, Jan. 21, page 10).


According to an NIH spokesman, the comments voiced at the meeting, as well as those submitted beforehand, will be considered by NIH as it moves forward with its mandatory policy. There are no plans, however, to push back the policy's start date.

The March 20 meeting allowed for only a fraction of the more than 400 comments submitted to NIH prior to the event to be heard. The comments included both support for the mandatory posting policy and points of concern.

Patients, patient support groups, and NIH-funding recipients generally praised NIH for taking steps to make papers published on the research it supports freely available. "I strongly believe that because the facility is funded by our taxpayer dollars that we have already 'paid' for these documents once and shouldn't be required to pay a second time," wrote Tara Belverud, a patient caregiver, in her submitted comment.

On the other hand, many publishers, including the American Chemical Society, which publishes C&EN, raised concerns about copyright issues and the lack of a formal rule-making process in the agency's move from a voluntary policy to a mandatory one. "NIH must develop specific safeguards to ensure that day-to-day implementation of the public-access policy respects basic principles embodied in copyright," wrote Romina Naveira, project manager for the Professional & Scholarly Publishing Division of the Association of American Publishers.

In addition to the public meeting, NIH has also put out a solicitation for public comments for 60 days. NIH plans to respond to these comments and announce any changes to its policy within 120 days following the close of the comment period.

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Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2009 American Chemical Society

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