Taxpayer Alliance applauds congressional mandate for NIH public access

House appropriations committee directs NIH to ensure tax-funded medical research is freely available in agency's online archive

Washington, DC June 15, 2006 The Alliance for Taxpayer Access (ATA) strongly supports the U.S. House Appropriations Committee's provision directing the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to require its research grantees to submit an electronic version of their final, peer-reviewed manuscript to the National Library of Medicine's PubMed Central online archive upon acceptance for publication in a journal.

The House Appropriations Committee took this official step, which strengthens the public access policy undertaken by NIH a year ago, as they approved the FY 2007 Labor, HHS, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations measure. The NIH policy, currently voluntary, has resulted in researchers' deposit of less than five percent of available NIH-funded research. The House Appropriations bill with the new directive will now be considered by the U.S. House of Representatives. The U.S. Senate will consider its Labor, HHS, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill sometime this summer.

"This action is a clear signal from Congressional leaders that they are committed to advancing the cause of science and the public interest," said Heather Joseph, Executive Director of SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, an ATA founding member). "The bill is a significant step in acknowledging the profound impact the Internet has on the conduct of scientific research and the need for this research to be shared as widely as possible."

The bill also stipulates a maximum 12-month window for authors to submit their peer-reviewed manuscripts. The ATA believes this lengthy timeframe will delay important research advances and the dissemination of information to stakeholders who rely on it. "We applaud the House Appropriations Committee for taking this tremendous stride forward," said Pat Furlong, Founding President & CEO of Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy. "For individuals and families struggling to stay abreast of scientific developments and make informed decisions about their care and their lives, access to credible, reliable, and current information is often the difference between life and death. However, the 12-month delay is too long for us to wait. As the bill moves forward, we urge members of both House and Senate committees to consider adopting a six-month embargo, if not immediate access."

The appropriations bill strengthens efforts by Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) to win Congressional endorsement of the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006 (S.2695). The bill requires federal agencies that fund over $100 million in annual external research to make electronic manuscripts of peer-reviewed journal articles stemming from that research publicly available via the Internet. ATA enthusiastically supports this measure. Details may be found online at http://www.taxpayeraccess.org.

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The Alliance for Taxpayer Access is a coalition of patient, academic, research, and publishing entities that support expanded access to the results of federally funded research. The Alliance was formed in 2004 to urge that peer-reviewed articles on 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.


Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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