[Paleopsych] CHE: House Committee Tells NIH to Post Research Results Online and Make Them Free
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Mon Jul 19 21:15:25 UTC 2004
House Committee Tells NIH to Post Research Results Online and Make Them Free
News bulletin from the Chronicle of Higher Education, 4.7.19
By ANDREA L. FOSTER
In a coup for the open-access movement, the Appropriations Committee
of the U.S. House of Representatives has recommended that the National
Institutes of Health provide the public with free, online access to
articles resulting from research it has financed.
The recommendation is included in a report that accompanies a spending
bill for the Departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human
Services for the 2005 fiscal year. The report says that within six
months after an article is published, the NIH should make available
researchers' final manuscripts via PubMed Central, a popular digital
archive maintained by the National Library of Medicine.
The report also instructs the NIH to submit a document to the House
committee by December stating how it plans to carry out the
The Association of American Publishers is aggressively pressing
members of Congress to gut the open-access language in the report,
saying that the recommendation is worded like a requirement and would
threaten publishers' ability to decide when and if to make articles
"To mandate the government to declare the open-access model as the
model for government-funded research publication is not in the best
interest of business and readers," said Barbara Meredith, the
association's vice president for professional and scholarly
The House Appropriations Committee, which approved the bill and the
report on Wednesday, justified the recommendation by saying that
taxpayers deserve free access to the results of research they helped
"The committee is very concerned that there is insufficient public
access to reports and data resulting from NIH-funded research," the
committee report reads. "This situation, which has been exacerbated by
the dramatic rise in scientific-journal subscription prices, is
contrary to the best interests of the U.S. taxpayers who paid for this
Scholars and librarians have long shared similar views.
Indeed, librarians and the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources
Coalition, or Sparc, have been lobbying the Appropriations Committee
behind the scenes to include the open-access language in the
committee's report, according to a Washington consultant familiar with
the issue. Sparc is an alliance of university and research libraries
working to cut costs and enhance competition in scientific publishing.
"This is going to make more information available to more people,"
James G. Neal, Columbia University's vice president for information
services and its chief librarian, said of the House report. "That is
in the public interest. It's in the government interest. It's in the
Mr. Neal is chairman of Sparc's steering committee, which was
instrumental in persuading the Appropriations Committee to adopt the
open-access language. He said he hopes the committee's action last
week will spur the government to consider whether articles resulting
from research financed by other federal agencies should also be posted
He offered as an example research supported by the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration. Scientific papers emerging from
NASA-backed research, he said, are largely made available through
expensive scholarly journals owned by commercial publishers.
The Appropriations Committee's report caught the Association of
American Publishers by surprise and prompted what Ms. Meredith
described as a two-day "blitz" of telephone calls, letters, and faxes
last week from publishers to members of Congress, urging them to
reject the report.
"It was authored by the NIH, and it really caught us off-guard," Ms.
Meredith said. "We feel that no publishers were consulted on it."
Specifically, the association wants the last sentence of the
open-access language removed from the report. The sentence instructs
the NIH to submit a report to the Appropriations Committee by December
1, 2004, stating how it will carry out the recommendation.
The publishers' group also wants to change the period after which
articles would be made freely available. The report recommends six
months. Ms. Meredith said it should state that articles would be
posted after a "reasonable period after publication."
A six-month time frame might strike some scholarly publishers as too
short. The journal Science, for example, makes articles free on its
Web site one year after they appeared in print.
In letters to federal officials last month, officials of the
publishers' group warned of the perils of open-access publishing.
"Public policy that compels journal publishers to adopt a monolithic
and unproven economic model of publishing could present a serious
threat to science and the value that NIH-sponsored biomedical research
delivers to society," stated the letters, which were sent to Elias
Zerhouni, director of the NIH, and John H. Marburger III, director of
the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
The full House is expected to vote on the spending bill this week,
before it adjourns for the summer. Ms. Meredith said her group would
continue pushing to have the open-access language stripped from the
report before that vote.
If the language remains in the report, she said, the publishing group
would lobby to have it removed when the Senate takes up its version of
the spending bill. The Senate is likely to consider the bill after
Background articles from The Chronicle:
* The Promise and Peril of 'Open Access' (1/30/2004)
* Publishers Fear Government Intervention (1/30/2004)
45. mailto:andrea.foster at chronicle.com
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