NIH public access law is now being implemented

As many of you may be aware, yesterday was the first day of the implementation of the new NIH law which requires all articles describing research funded by NIH to be deposited into PubMed Central within 12 months of publication. Folks at SPARC have put together a list of resources one can consult when looking for answers about the implementation of the access policy.

Bloggers on Nature Network as well as here on will write posts about the NIH bill and its implementation throughout the week (the 'OA week'), informing their readers about the implementation, the next steps to be worked on in the future, and related topics. NIH is collecting public comments on the policy until May 1 so feel free to chime in yourself.

This law is not something that just appeared out of thin air a couple of months ago. As Liz Allen explains:

It's been a long and winding road to get to this point and PLoS has been closely involved from the very beginning. Inspired by the desire to harness the potential of the internet to foster faster, freer exchange of biomedical knowledge, Harold Varmus, then director of the National Institutes of Health, proposed an electronic publishing site called E-biomed that would provide barrier-free access to the peer-reviewed and pre peer-reviewed scientific literature. After a period of public review (during which E-biomed met with fierce opposition from established publishers, sound familiar?), Dr. Varmus announced the creation of PubMed Central. Launched in February 2000, PMC is the NIH's free digital archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature and is the repository into which all NIH funded research articles must be deposited from today.

Of course, if you publish with PLoS, you do not have to worry about any of this - we know what to do and we do it for you automatically. The moment your paper is published, it is immediatelly deposited in PubMed Central, so you can go on with your work without worrying about the new law. In today's issue of PLoS Biology, Harold Varmus exlains:

In contrast, open-access journals, like those published by PLoS or BioMed Central, make their articles immediately and freely available in PMC, eliminating any extra work by the authors and any delay before the articles are fully accessible. Furthermore, these journals permit far greater use of their articles, by allowing readers to explore and reuse the texts under the terms of a Creative Commons license. These degrees of freedom are possible because access and use do not diminish revenues: open-access publishers recover their costs upfront, frequently by charging a publication fee that is paid from research expenses, rather than with subscription charges to libraries and readers. Thus the distribution and reuse of open-access content can be without limit, just as scientists and the public would wish.

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I can't tell you how many times I have tried to research a medical issue for myself or a relative and run into the requirement to BUY the article. Of course, I don't know how many of those articles were based on NIH funded research, but I feel this is a victory for the average American taxpayers, and we've gotten few of those under the Bush regime.

By Anon reader (not verified) on 08 Apr 2008 #permalink

Are there any efforts underway in the EU or elsewhere outside the US to make similar provisions for open access?

And what about all the science areas not funded by NIH but receiving other federal grant monies?

@ chezjake,

I don't have an answer to your second point.

With regards to the first, here in the UK, bar one, ALL of the main funders of publicly funded research MANDATE that the research be made OA generally, within 6 months MAXIMUM.

In January this year, a similar mandate was launched in the EU.

Canada and Australia are heading in this direction too.

The NIH Mandate was the 21st in the world, so OA is certainly not restricted to the US.

really great sir.i also want do the research in d future.sir can't u invent monoclonal antibodies for cancer.plese try to invent this one. rani, india.


All public scientific knowledge and natural organisms should have a repository such as this. This resource should be mirrored and researchers should be allowed to view articles under review as well as articles that have been reviewed. Also, I would like to better understand the process by which many of these experiments can be replicated. It's desirable to have the many organisms and samples for which these articles are about also available for future replication and verification. It has been difficult, for example to acquire some organisms (botryococcus braunii showa and CTRF1 strains are examples) to verify some of the claims made about them.

The first & most prominent thing that I saw on this PLOS web page on public access to NIH-supported research is an ad for a book that claims to show how Science proves that God does not exist.

I would say that that is lousy publicity for NIH and for the federal government, if not for this presumably scientific, peer-reviewed journal. Many people who see the ad might well say that it blatantly confirms what fundamentalists have been saying for years about the hidden agendas of atheistic scientists and (some) government-supported research.

Indeed, I'd be inclined to say that myself, and I not a fundamentalist but a retired primatologist.

Emil W. Menzel, Jr.
Professor emeritus, Stony Brook

By Emil Menzel (not verified) on 20 Apr 2008 #permalink

This is not a PLoS page. It is a personal blog. And this a post that PLoS just linked to, because of the content of the post, not the advertising around it, of course.