Publishers ask NIH to delay open access

At the National Institutes of Health linkurl:open meeting; on the new public access mandate yesterday (March 20), publishers continued to criticize the plan and called for the agency to delay implementing it. As part of the Congressional linkurl:appropriations act; for FY2008, all articles arising from research funded by NIH funds must be submitted to PubMed Central within 12 months of publication.

By | March 21, 2008

At the National Institutes of Health linkurl:open meeting; on the new public access mandate yesterday (March 20), publishers continued to criticize the plan and called for the agency to delay implementing it. As part of the Congressional linkurl:appropriations act; for FY2008, all articles arising from research funded by NIH funds must be submitted to PubMed Central within 12 months of publication. The NIH implemented this mandate on January 11. NIH director Elias Zerhouni said the agency was "all ears" to recommendations of how to best move forward with implementing the policy. Not surprisingly, representatives of the major scientific publishers -- who have voiced opposition to this mandate -- were the first in line of 24 to give their comment to the NIH director and director of extramural research Norka Ruiz Bravo on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Md. Jack Ochs, from the American Chemical Society, gave the first five-minute comment. He started out by saying that a brief meeting was no substitute for the formal comments on rulemaking process like the one the NIH held when they were implementing the voluntary submission program in 2005. He was the first of several to call a halt to implementing the mandate so the details could be worked out. Several publishers said that the NIH's plan for PubMed Central to be a massive, searchable database for research papers duplicates what publishers have been investing in for years. The National Library of Medicine -- which runs PubMed -- plans to reformat the papers, create reference links, and add other add-ons once they are in the database (you can read more about this linkurl:here).; Martin Frank from the American Physiological Society said that the NIH is using taxpayer dollars to become another publisher. "Scientific literature is available only due to the money already spent by publishers," he said. Allan Adler, vice president of legal and government affairs for the Association of American Publishers said that the NIH is going far beyond what is required of them by the Congressional language. Even some of the public access supporters who gave a comment had concerns regarding the new policy. They wanted to know how the NIH will ensure compliance to the mandate, who will have access to the manuscripts submitted to PubMed Central, and how authors are to know publication dates of their papers so far ahead of time. At the end of the meeting Bravo reiterated that the NIH will be taking all comments into consideration and that the NIH has issued a request for information open from March 31 to May 31, where the public can submit further comment. The agency will be issuing its report on these comments no later than September 30. All in all, two camps with opposing views on public access clustered together in the aisles during meeting breaks and at the cafeteria tables in Natcher Hall, where the meeting was held. When the meeting was called back to session "everyone comes out of their respective huddles and returns to the line of scrimmage," Ochs jokingly told The Scientist. At the end of the day each side seemed to grow tired of hearing what the other had to say; as he walked up the aisle to leave, Marc Brodsky, former CEO and director of the American Institute of Physics, said to Rebecca Kennison, director of the Center for Digital Research and Scholarship at Columbia University, and supporter of the mandate: "I suppose Columbia is going to give up all patents from government-funded research as well?" Kennison, without making eye contact, simply shrugged and said, "Well..."


Avatar of: Gordon Couger

Gordon Couger

Posts: 23

March 24, 2008

Getting information out as fast a possible is almost a necessity in these fast moving times. The delays imposed by publishing on paper in Journals is time lost for everyone working in that field. The fact that time equals money has been proved over and over. It's true in research too. \n\nI believe that a field that has no delays in publishing once the paper has stood review will progress faster than one that has delays in publication. I don't think any one doubts the author that has his paper published first very likely has an advantage and more influence in his field than those who's papers are delayed in process.\n\nI am not so sure of the open review process. It increases the speed of information decimation but it could legitimize papers that will flail the process. Providing a happy hunting ground for the press and activists.\n\nI wonder what mathematics be like today if Archimedes work on calculus has been available to Newton and not scraped off the pages and a reused in prayer book and lost until modern times. That's an extreme example of a delay. But that and the burning of the Library at Alexandria is an extreme example of the cost of delays and loss in publication.\n\nI remember the day of looking the journal up in the card catalog, physically pulling the journal form the stacks, reading the article in the library and making the choice if it was worth the price of lunch to copy. As a student that was often a hard choice. Then writing the information down on 4x5 card with a notes and key words of the the points I was interested in. Then looking at the bibliography to see if there was any thing there of interest. On a good day I could get through 2 or 3 papers an hour. Less if I found one that was important to what I was doing and the it 1 or 2 hours per paper.\n\nI timed myself searching and saving on line papers to a memory stick or emailing them to myself. I can get about 90 papers and hour if I have my search terms thought out in advance. \n\nThere is no question I had a much better understanding of what I was collecting doing it the old way. But I couldn't covert the 4x5 cards or relatively expensive copies to hundreds of computer searchable text files as I can with HTML, Post Script and PDF files to text files with tools such pfdtotext, cut and paste in the case of HTML and simply print out a Post Script file as text and search hundreds of the paper I have collected in seconds on my own computer with my own complex searches of my own design in seconds. \n\nSimply by putting all the text files with the citation in them in directory and using the old Unix Shell tools and scripts, the search tools on the computer and the Googles search tool for my computer. I can do things I never dreamed would be possible. Even more can be done with more complex data base told in Pearl, Java, etc will do as well or better.\n\nThe new way I work gives me all the papers I deem worthy of keeping at my finger tips at all times. By collecting the citation the same time I do the paper and make sure they are connected. I never will have to waste time trying to find a miss placed reference again.\n\nIf I want to find the reference on John G. Delly discussing interference microscope using Savart plates I can. Using Google and their search engine that searches my computer by looking for any 2 of the terms. Apple's Spotlight will even find the data in PDF files on my computer.\n\nI am sure I am not saying what those that publish for profit what to hear. But until I can get open access to papers from any location with similar search capabilities that's the way I will work. The for profit publisher could do a lot in making an industry wide uniform interface so one doesn't have hunt all over the page for the option they want. Pubmed Is very good in that respect. Pubmed's search engine is tops in my opinion as well.\n\nI support PubMed 100%. I am sure there are problems. But I have confidence they will work them out. I just hope they incorporate more fields of study.\n\nGordon Couger\nOklahoma State University [retired]\nStillwater Oklahoma\n\n\n

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