For the last few years the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has been following a policy of asking researchers to voluntarily add research articles that are published based on NIH funded research to the PubMed database. The voluntary part has resulted in just 5% of such articles being added, so they are now trying to make it mandatory. This is part of the open access movement and just one of many government actions worldwide seeking to provide public access to research. See the Wellcome Trust for one example
Some of you may know I am an ACRL Legislative Advocate and so I recently faxed the following to our Florida Senators, Nelson and Martinez.
"As you know, access to health information and health care in general is an issue of great concern to central Floridians. The opening of the medical school at UCF will help enormously in this regard. However, there is something else that you can also do to help Floridians access the latest health and scientific information.
Please support the inclusion of language put forth in the Labor/HHS Appropriations bill directing the National Institutes of health (NIH) to implement a mandatory policy ensuring free, timely access to all research articles stemming from NIH-funded research.
Floridians, and all American citizens, are entitled to open access on the Internet to the peer-reviewed scientific articles resulting from research funded by the U.S. government. Widespread access to the information contained in these articles is an essential, inseparable component of our nation's investment in science. It helps small colleges like Rollins educate the next generation of leaders. It helps research institutions like UCF develop new scientific and medical breakthroughs, and it helps all Floridians have access to the latest research to help them understand and manage their own health.
Over the more than two years since its implementation, the NIH's current voluntary policy has failed to achieve any of the agency's stated goals, attaining a deposit rate of less than 5% by individual researchers. A mandate is required to ensure deposit in NIH¹s online archive of articles describing findings of all research funded by the agency.
The Fiscal Year 2008 Labor/HHS Appropriations Bill reported out of committee contains language directing the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to change its Public Access Policy so that it requires NIH-funded researchers to deposit copies of agency-funded research articles into the National Library of Medicine¹s online archive. Please support that language.
I would appreciate knowing what action you take on this issue. Thank you for your consideration."
For more information you can go to the ALA or the the Alliance for Taxpayer Access. For the other side of the story, take a look at the Partnership for Research Integrity in Research and Medicine (PRISM.)
On a side note, you gotta love these names, "taxpayer access" "research integrity." Marketing the message is as important in influencing the governmental process as the quality of the public policy. Welcome to Washington.