NIH To Enforce OA Policy

The National Institutes of Health will get tough on grantees who fail to comply with its open-access funding rule.

By | November 20, 2012

http://www.plos.org/The National Institutes of Health will no longer tolerate grantees who fail to submit manuscripts reporting the results of NIH-funded research to an open-access repository, as per the agency’s 4-year-old OA policy. Starting in spring 2013, the federal science agency will delay funding grants if any of the papers tied to the research it supports is out of compliance with the policy, which states that papers resulting from NIH-funded work must be accesible to the public on PubMed Central within 12 months of publication. Previously, the OA policy was only loosely enforced, if at all.

Director of the NIH’s Office of External Research, Sally Rockey, announced the agency’s attitude change in a blog entry posted last Friday (November 16). “When we put the policy into place in 2008 it was an adjustment for all of us,” she wrote. “But our work is not done as there are still publications—and as a consequence, NIH awards—that are not in compliance.”

According to a March report from the Executive Office of the President National Science and Technology Council, only 75 percent of eligible, NIH-funded papers had been deposited in PubMed Central as per the OA policy. “I encourage principal investigators to start thinking about public access compliance when papers are planned,” Rockey wrote. “Discuss with your co-authors how the paper will be submitted to PubMed Central, and who will do so, along with all the other tasks of paper writing. The easiest thing to do, perhaps even today, is to take a couple of minutes to enter the NIH-supported papers you have published in the last year into My NCBI to ensure you meet the requirements of the policy regardless of when your non-competing continuation is due. This will help you avoid a last minute scramble that could delay your funding.”

The change in enforcement strategy was formally announced by the NIH on Friday.

(Hat tip to ScienceInsider and GenomeWeb.)

Correction (November 26): This original article incorrectly stated that the NIH policy requires papers to be submitted to PubMed Central within 12 months of publication. In fact, the policy states that the research must be publicaly accessible via PubMed Central within 12 months of publication. The mistake has been corrected, and The Scientist regrets the error.

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