KEI Voices Support for NIH Publication Mandate

On July 19th, the House of Representatives passed an appropriations bill for the Department of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education which contained the following language:

Sec. 217. 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.

Working closely with a larger coalition of open access proponents, KEI circulated a letter of support in the Senate supporting Section 217. This provision will ensure that the public, which funds the NIH grant programs, will now have access to the research they underwrite.

The KEI letter said:

“The vast majority of papers supported with taxpayer funding are not available to the general public, ever. NIH’s policy now calls for the voluntary deposit of articles in the online archive. The deposit rate for individual researchers is less than five percent. The voluntary approach has failed to protect the public’s interest in obtaining access to the research. A mandate will ensure the public has access to all NIH-funded research.”

In a separate letter, 26 Nobel laureates wrote to support the mandatory open access provision. According to these scientists, the current voluntary system for public access is ineffective. They said: “it does not surprise us that a request – with neither incentives nor consequences attached – to submit our articles so that they are freely available simply does not make the lengthy “to-do” lists of our colleagues.”

The Labor, HHS, and Education appropriations bill was received in the Senate on July 23rd, and subsequently placed on the legislative calendar for consideration after the August recess. If the Senate approves this provision in the appropriations bill, it will greatly expand everyone’s access to this valuable knowledge resource.