First published December 1, 2005 - More info
Fifty-seven leading medical and scientific nonprofit publishers in the US have offered the NIH direct links to their journals to make research access even easier for the public, and at no cost to boot.
Their proposal, sent to NIH director Elias Zerhouni on October 25, laid out a plan for the NIH to provide access to their journal websites using links from abstracts that are already in place and indexed on Medline. This system would bring the NIH a step closer to their known goal of complete public access to all NIH-funded research. Currently, the NIH requests that all grantees submit their manuscripts as soon as they have been accepted for publication, before they have benefited from production changes such as copy editing and layout.
A major concern has been the potential of confusion if more than one version of the manuscript is made available, which could lead to errors. The new proposal would eliminate this worry — the publishers are offering the finalized manuscripts to the NIH at no charge so that only the published version of the paper would be available, keeping the scientific record intact while maintaining copyright protections. This arrangement would also eliminate the need to create a taxpayer-funded infrastructure that would support a web database to publish and house the penultimate versions of the papers and will permit seamless linkage to more than 1 million scientific articles, a number that will increase by approximately 15,000 each month.
“Overnight and at no cost to taxpayers, this proposal will make it easy for the public to access vast amounts of the most accurate scientific and medical information available,” said Chris Lynch, vice president of publishing for the Massachusetts Medical Society, in a press release. “What we are proposing is for the NIH to become the public’s doorway into the universe of research that non-profit publishers already provide to the public everyday.”
“This is simply another step in fostering collaboration among the scientific communities and the public,” said Lenne P. Miller of The Endocrine Society. “We look forward to hearing back from Director Zerhouni and to meeting with him to move forward on an exciting partnership that would deliver enormous public benefits for generations to come.”