Open Access, NIH Style

From Virginia Carden, Administrative Research Librarian, Duke Medical Center Library:

The NIH Public Access Policy was conceived as a way to ensure the public’s access to published research results and increase the research impact of NIH funding.  With the increasing costs of journal subscriptions, many researchers, as well as patients and members of the general public were finding it more and more difficult to have access to articles on cutting edge research in medicine and science.   The Public Access policy requires that NIH research-results, funded with tax payer dollars are available to clinicians, researchers, patients, and others across the United States and the globe.

Starting April 7, 2008 all NIH-funded investigators were required to have a copy of their accepted and peer-reviewed manuscript submitted to PubMed Central, the National Library of Medicine’s full-text database.  In addition, the manuscript becomes available to the public as soon as possible but no later than 12 months after the journal article is published.   Duke has a website that provides more details about the policy as well as resources to help Duke authors comply with the requirements. There are now thousands of freely accessible articles in the PubMed Central database as a result of this policy.

So what is the difference between open access and public access?  Public access primarily focuses on information and publications funded with tax-payers’ dollars by local, state and national government agencies.  In the case of the NIH policy, only those journal articles, whose research has been funded by the government, become publicly accessible, while the rest of the content may never be freely accessible.

What next?

Now Congressional leaders, as well as librarians, scientists, and consumers are considering whether other federal agencies should follow the NIH public access model.  Several bills have been introduced over the past few years along with a roundtable and hearing to explore the issues.  Here are other sites you can visit to learn more about public access activities at the national level:

For more information, see the Open Access at Duke web site.Open Access logo, designed by PLoS

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