SPECIAL UPDATE: Congress Passes Spending Bill,
Comments on NIH Open Access Model
This update was originally sent out as an e-mail message to AGI's
IN A NUTSHELL: When the House of Representatives approved
the Fiscal Year (FY) 2005 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education
Appropriations bill in September, the Committee also issued a report.
Therein members expressed support for a proposal by the National Institutes
of Health (NIH) to make the complete text of articles and supplemental
materials generated by NIH-funded research freely and continuously
available on PubMed Central (PMC), an online storehouse of life science
articles, six months after the date of publication. The Senate did
not address this issue in their version of NIH's spending plan. As
such, the House and Senate needed to work out their differences on
this issue prior to passing the final FY05 budget for NIH. Congress
approved H.R. 4818, the Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY 2005
on Saturday, November 20th. Buried in the depths of this monumental
piece of legislation were Congress' comments about the NIH open access
The report, H.
Rept. 108-792, stated the following:
"The conferees are aware of the draft NIH policy on increasing
public access to NIH-funded research. Under this policy, NIH would
request investigators to voluntarily submit electronically the final,
peer reviewed author's copy of their scientific manuscripts; six months
after the publisher's date of publication, NIH would make this copy
publicly available through PubMed Central. The policy is intended
to help ensure the permanent preservation of NIH-funded research and
make it more readily accessible to scientists, physicians, and the
public. The conferees note that the comment period for the draft policy
ended November 16th; NIH is directed to give full and fair consideration
to all comments before publishing its final policy. The conferees
request NIH to provide the estimated costs of implementing this policy
each year in its annual Justification of Estimates to the House and
Senate Appropriations Committees. In addition, the conferees direct
NIH to continue to work with the publishers of scientific journals
to maintain the integrity of the peer review system."
Some believe that the inclusion of this language indicates the appropriators'
interest in becoming more involved with the proposal, understanding
of potential cost implications, and interest in seeing the involvement
of publishers of scientific journals. Others believe it simply reaffirms
Congress and the Administration's intention to create an open-access
archive of NIH-funded research. This is an idea coming to fruition.
With this language, Congress directed NIH to give "full and fair
consideration to all comments" and to publish a final policy.
NIH will do so without ever answering the tough questions about the
impact this model would have on scientists, non-profit scientific
publishers, consumers, the peer-review process or the science on the
record in a public forum.
Scientists standing at the crossroads of our profession - the intersection
of the quest for knowledge and the dissemination thereof - need to
remain engaged in this issue. We appreciate every individual and organization
that provided comments to NIH and shared them with their Congressman
and Senator. Please follow up with your Congressional Representatives
during the holidays and ask them to schedule hearings on this issue
early next year.
AGI will continue to monitor this issue and provide you with updates
about public access to federally funded scientific research. Log on
for the latest information.
Special update prepared by Emily Lehr Wallace, AGI Government Affairs
Sources: Thomas Legislative Database; Federal Register.
Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI
Government Affairs Program.
Posted November 30, 2004