The District Dispatch recently put out a call for library advocates to contact their U.S. Senators in support of public access to medical information from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Today, the Alliance for Taxpayer Access (ATA), of which ALA is a member, was pleased to make this announcement:
Washington, D.C. - On October 23, the U.S. Senate approved the fiscal year (FY) 2008 Labor, HHS, and Education Appropriations Bill, including a provision that directs the NIH to strengthen its Public Access Policy by requiring rather than requesting participation by researchers. The bill will now be reconciled with the House Appropriations Bill, which contains a similar provision, in another step toward support for public access to publicly funded research becoming United States law.
Under a mandatory policy, NIH-funded researchers will be required to deposit copies of eligible manuscripts into the National Library of Medicine’s online database, PubMed Central. Articles will be made publicly available no later than 12 months after publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
The current NIH Public Access Policy, first implemented in 2005, is a voluntary measure and has resulted in a deposit rate of less than 5% by individual investigators. The advance to a mandatory policy is the result of more than two years of monitoring and evaluation by the NIH, Congress, and the community.
Negotiators from the House and Senate are expected to meet to reconcile their respective bills this fall. The final, consolidated bill will have to pass the House and the Senate before being delivered to the President at the end of the year.
The Alliance for Taxpayer Access is a coalition of patient, academic, research, and publishing organizations that supports open public access to the results of federally funded research. The Alliance was formed in 2004 to urge that peer-reviewed articles stemming from taxpayer-funded research become fully accessible and available online at no extra cost to the American public. Details on the ATA may be found at http://www.taxpayeraccess.org.