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Public interest advocates question NIH Enhanced Access policy

Thursday, February 3, 2005 (Washington, DC) Public interest supporters of the NIH Enhanced Public Access Plan today declared the just-announced policy falls short of their expectations and long-standing recommendations. In a letter addressed to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Michael Leavitt, the Alliance for Taxpayer Access outlined its key concerns with the NIH plan:

  • The policy is entirely voluntary. Although NIH research in question is funded by taxpayer dollars, the agency is leaving the decision up to each author whether to make their research results available.

  • The policy lacks any definitive time frame or deadline by which NIH-funded research must be available for public use.

  • The policy puts grant recipients in the untenable position of trying to meet the contradictory expectations of their funding agency and their publisher.

    Addressing Leavitt as well as NIH indirectly, members of the Alliance for Taxpayer Access emphasized the need to hold NIH accountable for achieving the stated goals of sharing taxpayer-funded research with the American people and fulfilling the intentions behind the original Congressional mandate. They called on HHS to report to Congress and the public in the near term on progress toward full taxpayer access using two practical metrics:

    1. The proportion of eligible research articles that have been deposited in PubMed Central, and

    2. The lag time between an article's publication in a journal and its availability in PubMed Central.

    Rick Johnson, Director of the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), said, "Frankly, this just-announced policy is neither what we hoped for nor proposed and it falls far short of the 'bright light' of transparency that Dr. Zerhouni promised earlier this week in his ethics reforms."

    Johnson continued, "However, we are eager for it to succeed. The proof is in the pudding. The coming months will tell
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  • Contact: Bob Witeck
    bwiteck@witeckcombs.com
    202-887-0500 x19
    Witeck Combs
    3-Feb-2005


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