January 1, 2008

New Law Requires Free Access to NIH-funded Research

A change in federal policy will require all published research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to be available free to the public within one year. Authors publishing in IDSA journals will not notice any changes, however, since The Journal of Infectious Diseases (JID) and Clinical Infectious Diseases (CID) already comply with the policy.

The new policy stems from a provision in the omnibus spending bill Congress passed late last year. Starting April 7, scientists who receive NIH grants will be required to submit a final copy of their research paper to the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed Central. The intention is to ensure that the public has open access to taxpayer-sponsored research.

Currently, the program is voluntary. However, so far only about 5 percent of scientists participate.

All articles published in JID and CID already are available 12 months after publication at no additional cost, so no changes will be necessary. Everett Connor, publishing operations director at IDSA’s publisher, University of Chicago Press (UCP), added, “Both IDSA and the Press recognize the necessity of broad availability for medical research and have maintained an open access policy for some years prior to the recent inclusion of NIH policy in the omnibus spending bill.” The editors of both journals select several articles of particular interest to be available for free immediately upon publication. Also, all practice guidelines are freely available upon publication, he added.

NIH will now have to work to provide direction on how to implement the legislation to make sure everyone understands the policy and how to correctly follow it once it comes into effect. IDSA will continue to follow any updates on this policy.

More information on the NIH policy is available at http://publicaccess.nih.gov/.

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