Re: A Simple Way to Optimize the NIH Public Access Policy

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Wed, 22 Jun 2005 23:18:02 +0100

Pertinent Prior AmSci Topic Threads:

    "A Simple Way to Optimize the NIH Public Access Policy"

    "Please Don't Copy-Cat Clone NIH-12 Non-OA Policy!"

    "Open Access vs. NIH Back Access and Nature's Back-Sliding"

Ironic that apologists for NIH's flawed "public access" policy (see
below) are citing Nature's Back-Sliding from Green to Pale-Green as one
of the benefits of the NIH Policy.

    "Nature Back-Slides on Self-Archiving [Corrected] (2005)"

Pity also that NIH policy-makers still don't seem to realize that all
their current objectives plus a great deal more would be achieved by:

    (1) *requiring* (not requesting)

    (2) *institutional* (not PubMedCentral) self-archiving, with PMC
    simply harvesting from the fundee's Institutional Repository, IR),

    (3) *immediately* upon acceptance (not within 12 months) along
    with the "keystroke" strategy of giving the NIH fundees the option,
    if they wish (for the 8% of journals that are still not green),
    of depositing the compulsory full-text in their own IR, but making
    only the metadata visible institution-externally, while emailing the
    eprint to any eprint-requesters (who of course see the metadata) for
    the 8% of journals that are still not green: infinitely preferable
    to a blanket embargo). NIH's PubMed Central can then harvest when
    it chooses, without holding everything else back by underwriting
    an embargo.

Instead, apologists for the NIH Policy keep expounding the prominent,
undeniable, and totally unnecessary flaws of its current version as if
they were hidden virtues. Meanwhile, the waiting for OA goes on (and

Thank goodness things are looking far more promising and sensible
in Europe (and perhaps soon Asia)!

Stevan Harnad

On Wed, 22 Jun 2005, Peter Suber wrote [in the SPARC OA Forum]::

> [These are written responses from the NIH to written questions from Senator
> Richard Durbin (D-IL). Sen. Durbin is on the Senate Subcommitee that sets
> the budget for the NIH. --Peter.]
> Drug Research and Development
> NIH has made tremendous contributions to the public good through
> investments in medical research and therapeutic clinical trials. I'm
> troubled, though, that U.S. citizens are paying twice for pharmaceuticals,
> once through taxpayer support for NIH-funded research and then again at the
> pharmacy when they purchase the drugs that NIH funding helped to develop.
> For example, I have a hard time believing that prices charged for drugs
> like Taxol, AZT, Gleevec, and others that are substantially funded by
> taxpayer money are fair.
> Question: Is there anything NIH can do to retain or recoup some of the
> market value of these therapies that are developed based on NIH-funded
> research?
> Answer: Since 2003, NIH has executed 610 new licenses and has collected
> $112 million in royalty income from its intramural research program. This
> represents about two-thirds of the royalty income collected by all federal
> agencies. Most of NIH's licenses are executed for early-stage technologies
> with small companies that do not yet have product sales. NIH, however,
> carefully crafts its licensing terms so that it captures a reasonable share
> of the profits for those products that achieve commercialization. In
> addition, NIH has established a Monitoring and Enforcement Branch in the
> Office of Technology Transfer dedicated to monitoring the expeditious
> development of our licensed technologies and to ensuring that we receive
> the full return on our investment.
> In May 2000, the U.S. Congressional Joint Economic Committee issued The
> Benefits of Medical Research and the Role of NIH, which examined the role
> of federal funding for medical research and the benefits that derive from
> that research. The Committee report concluded that the benefit of
> increased life expectancy to the U.S. as a result of advances in health
> care from NIH-funded medical research results in a payoff of about 15 times
> the taxpayers' investment in NIH. Clearly, there are financial and public
> health related benefits of remarkable value that flow from NIH-funded
> biomedical research.
> The NIH contributes to affordability by conducting and funding research
> that leads to the development of a wider selection of drugs or new drugs,
> where no drugs were available. More alternatives can translate into more
> choices for the public, greater market competition, affordability and,
> ultimately, overall return to society by the improvement of the quality of
> life. Thus, as long as NIH continues to focus on its core mandate, namely
> conducting and funding broad-based research that could lead to the
> development of new drugs and therapies in the future, we believe that NIH
> is acting as a responsible partner in the national enterprise to improve
> the quality of life for the public and to make drugs more affordable.
> Public Access
> Your first steps toward more readily accessible research information for
> the public are commendable and appropriate. As I understand the process,
> the results of NIH-funded research should be available 12 months after it
> is published.
> Question: But why are you proposing that making research results
> accessible to the public is "recommended?" If this is such a good idea –
> and I think it is - why isn't it required?
> Answer: The voluntary nature of the Policy was established to encourage
> investigators to deposit their manuscripts in NIH's public archive. We
> believe this approach will ultimately result in broader participation. The
> Policy-related submissions will directly benefit NIH-supported
> investigators because recent studies have shown that freely available
> articles get cited more in other research publications. An increase in the
> number of citations helps improve the professional standing of
> investigators. Due to these benefits we anticipate that authors will
> decide to participate and to choose the earliest release dates.
> I also believe that the voluntary nature of the final policy permits
> sufficient flexibility to accommodate the needs of different stakeholders
> and leaves the ultimate decision in the hands of scientific investigators
> who are in the best position to judge the circumstances and the time frame
> under which their work may be made accessible to the public at
> large. Therefore, we believe that by having a Policy that provides maximum
> flexibility, authors will respond with maximum participation.
> Question: A year's delay after publication in a journal strikes me as a
> very long time, given the pace of biomedical developments today. How much
> time do you expect most participating researchers to let go by between
> publication and release of the study publicly?
> Answer: The Public Access Policy strongly encourages all NIH-funded
> researchers to make their peer-reviewed author's final manuscripts
> available to other researchers and to the public at the National Library of
> Medicine’s (NLM) PubMed Central (PMC) immediately after the official date
> of final publication. At the time of submission, authors are also given
> the option to release their manuscripts at a later time, up to 12 months
> after publication. NIH expects that only in limited cases will authors deem
> it necessary to select the longest delay period.
> The Policy-related submissions will directly benefit NIH-supported
> investigators by offering an alternate means by which they can fulfill the
> existing requirement to provide publications as part of progress
> reports. It is anticipated that, in the future, investigators applying for
> new and competing renewal support from the NIH will also utilize this
> resource by providing links in their applications to their PubMed
> Central-archived information. Further, recent studies have shown that
> freely available articles get cited more in other research
> publications. Increased citations help improve the professional standing
> of investigators. Due to these benefits we anticipate authors will choose
> the earliest release dates.
> Question: What rates of participation and time delays would you consider a
> success?
> Answer: Our goal is to build a comprehensive archive of the results of
> research that NIH funds. Rather than specifying a particular target
> number, we will be looking for an increasing number of manuscripts to be
> submitted over time and a decreasing delay period. Issuance of this policy
> is the beginning of a process that will include refinements as experience
> develops, outcomes are evaluated, and public dialogue among all the
> stakeholders is continued. An NIH Public Access Working Group of the NLM
> Board of Regents has been established. The Working Group includes
> representatives of the various stakeholder groups and will advise the NLM
> Board of Regents on implementation and assess progress in meeting the goals
> of the NIH Public Access Policy. Once the system is operational,
> modifications and enhancements will be made as needed based on the
> recommendations of the Working Group, or a permanent subcommittee of the
> Board, providing ongoing advice on improvements.
> We hope that secondary effects of the Policy might also be viewed in terms
> of "success." Since the Proposed Policy's release in September 2004, we
> have heard that an increasing number of publishers, within and outside of
> the United States, are considering changes to or adoption of Open Access
> publishing models. For example, in January the Nature Publishing Group
> altered its open access model to increase accessibility to its
> publications. We are optimistic that these changes will provide the public
> with free electronic access to Journal articles, through the publisher's
> web site, on a faster time scale or for the first time. This "change in the
> landscape" complements the benefits of the NIH Policy since the majority of
> articles in Journals (approximately 90%) do not result from NIH-funded
> research.

A complete Hypermail archive of the ongoing discussion of providing
open access to the peer-reviewed research literature online (1998-2005)
is available at:
        To join or leave the Forum or change your subscription address:
        Post discussion to:

UNIVERSITIES: If you have adopted or plan to adopt an institutional
policy of providing Open Access to your own research article output,
please describe your policy at:

    BOAI-1 ("green"): Publish your article in a suitable toll-access journal
    BOAI-2 ("gold"): Publish your article in a open-access journal if/when
            a suitable one exists.
    in BOTH cases self-archive a supplementary version of your article
            in your institutional repository.
Received on Wed Jun 22 2005 - 23:18:02 BST

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