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Not-for-profit publishers call NIH public access rule a missed opportunity

Bethesda, MD, February 3, 2005 The final National Institutes of Health (NIH) rule on Enhanced Public Access to NIH Research Information is wasteful of federal research dollars and a missed opportunity to take advantage of available technology and existing efforts, according to a group of the nation's leading not-for-profit medical and scientific publishers. The final rule ignores significant free access policies already existing in the not-for-profit publishing community that offer more cost-effective public access to the science in their journals.

NIH's new rule requests but does not require authors to deposit into PubMedCentral (PMC) manuscripts of articles reporting NIH-funded research that have been peer reviewed and accepted by journals for publication. NIH would release these manuscripts to the public within 12 months or less after publication in the journal. The timing of the release would be determined by the authors, who "should ensure that their PMC submissions are consistent with any other agreements, including copyright assignments," according to the NIH statement.

These publishers believe that NIH should take advantage of the fact that most not-for-profit publishers currently make all their content--not just NIH supported articles--available for free to the public within 12 months. Not-for-profit publishers believe that the public would be better served if NIH created an enhanced search engine that works like Google to crawl the journals' full text articles and link to the final published articles residing on the journal websites. This would offer significantly more assistance to those seeking medical research results than a database of NIH-funded manuscripts can provide. This public-private partnership would be much less costly to NIH and would avoid the confusion that would result from publishing two different versions of the same article--an unedited version on PubMed Central and the final version in the journal.

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Contact: Martin Frank
mfrank@the-aps.org
301-634-7118
American Physiological Society
3-Feb-2005


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