NIH Seeks Comments on Public Access Policy

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Publication date: 
14 March 2008

The National Institutes of Health are seeking comments on the implementation of the "NIH Revised Policy on Enhancing Public Access to Archived Publications Resulting From NIH-Funded Research."  This will occur at an all-day meeting to be held in Bethesda, MD on March 20.  In addition, an NIH website will accept public input through March 17 for comments to be considered at this meeting.  NIH will later solicit additional public comment for sixty days.  This notice also importantly states that "as of April 7, 2008, applicable articles resulting from NIH funds must be submitted to PubMed Central upon acceptance for publication."       

These developments follow passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008 (Public Law 110-497)  last December.  In this act, under Legislative Text, Division G - Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2008, Section 218 states:

"The Director of the National Institutes of Health shall require that all investigators funded by the NIH submit or have submitted for them to the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed Central an electronic version of their final, peer-reviewed manuscripts upon acceptance for publication, to be made publicly available no later than 12 months after the official date of publication: Provided, That the NIH shall implement the public access policy in a manner consistent with copyright law."

Inclusion of this language in the Consolidated Appropriations Act followed several years of discussion by Members of Congress, NIH, other federal agencies, the science community and scientific publishers about public access to the published results of federally-sponsored research.  The American Institute of Physics is a publisher of scientific journals.  Discussions are continuing regarding the implementation of the NIH Public Access Policy, which was encouraged by the Senate Appropriations Committee in the report accompanying its initial version of the FY 2008 funding bill for NIH: "The Committee directs the NIH to seek and carefully take into account the advice of journal publishers on the implementation of this policy."

The NIH notice explains the purpose of next week's meeting:

"The purpose of the Thursday, March 20, 2008 meeting is to seek comment from the public on implementation of the NIH Public Access Policy.  The meeting is open to everyone, including NIH-funded researchers, representatives of universities and other NIH grantee organizations, publishers (including commercial organizations, professional societies and journal editors), patients and public health advocates, and members of the public."  The notice continues "NIH desires broad participation and comment.  NIH is particularly interested in obtaining information on its Public Access Policy and the effectiveness of the Policy’s implementation."

Later, the notice explains a web site for another avenue for public comment:

"Individuals, groups, and organizations interested in submitting written comments on the NIH policy for consideration at the meeting should direct their comments to the following NIH Web site:  Such written comments should be submitted prior to March 17, 2008.   All submitted comments are considered public and will be made available through the NIH Public Access site.  In addition, as set forth below, NIH will provide another opportunity for submission of comments, by issuing a Request for Information on the Public Access Policy."

The notice concludes:

"Report and Subsequent Request for Information and Public Comment:  In addition to this March 20th stakeholders meeting, in March 2008 NIH will publish in the Federal Register a notice of availability of a Request for Information (RFI) asking for comments about its Public Access Policy (Policy) and the effectiveness of the Policy’s implementation.  The RFI will solicit public comments for 60 days.  The NIH plans to respond to the comments and announce any amendments to its Policy within 120 days of the end of the comment period."

The entire NIH notice can be read at:

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