Re: NIH public-access policy finally released (fwd)

From: Leslie Carr <>
Date: Fri, 4 Feb 2005 12:15:33 +0000

After all this speculation I have to say that my quibble is not with
the policy as stated (though it is undoubtedly flawed in expression and
implementation) but with the aims of the policy which are to

"1) create a stable archive of peer-reviewed research publications
resulting from NIH-funded research to ensure the permanent preservation
of these vital published research findings
2) secure a searchable compendium of these peer-reviewed research
publications that NIH and its awardees can use to manage more
efficiently and to understand better their research portfolios, monitor
scientific productivity, and ultimately, help set research priorities;
3) make published results of NIH-funded research more readily
accessible to the public, health care providers, educators, and

That the primary declared aim is irrelevant to open access (let the
journal publishers preserve their output) is an inauspicious basis for
an OA policy. That the second aim can be achieved without any open
access whatsoever (a bibliographic database would suffice) is still
less encouraging. That More Ready Access (rather than Open Access) to
scientific results by scientists is only admitted at the final word in
the last aim is completely perplexing. That "the man on the Clapham
omnibus" (as we refer to Joe Public on this side of the Atlantic) is
given greater priority in access to scientific research than the people
who are engaged in scientific research is just self-defeating when
devising a policy which is addressed to scientists and which is
supposed to make their research more effective!

No wonder the resulting policy is hardly a clarion call for open
access. But don't pin the blame on the policy, direct it at the terms
of reference! If you want a strong OA policy from the NIH, get them to
admit that OA is what they consider important!

(Of course, an interoperable network of OA repositories, maintained by
research institutions and their funders, will indirectly provide
everything that the NIH's current set of aims lays out. And, as we have
seen in the UK, it may be expedient to remind Universities that
maintaining a managed archive of their own research outputs has
innumerable benefits for the institution as well as the researcher. But
still, to put Open Access as the last priority seems so deliberately
awkward as to require some kind of censure!)
Les Carr
Received on Fri Feb 04 2005 - 12:15:33 GMT

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