CHICAGO - The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) has published letters responding to the recently announced public access policy of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
In letters to Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt and NIH Director Dr. Elias Zerhouni, ACRL congratulated NIH for having "taken a significant step to improve public access to NIH-funded research." The new NIH policy will make a large portion of NIH research openly available to the public in PubMed Central within a 12-month timeframe, following publication in peer-reviewed journals.
The policy also gives researchers a clear opportunity to make their work openly accessible as soon after publication as they choose, without seeking publisher permission.
Frances Maloy, ACRL President, and Ray English, chair of the ACRL Scholarly Communications Committee, expressed concern, however, that the NIH policy is voluntary on the part of researchers, in contrast to an earlier Congressional recommendation. They also noted that the policy would make all research deposited into PubMed Central openly accessible 12 months after publication - far longer than the six months called for in NIH's original draft proposal.
"We believe that delays of up to 12 months, especially in biomedical fields, serve neither the interests of science nor the public," the letters state.
Maloy and English also called on the NIH to quickly establish a process to monitor the success of the new policy, measuring both the proportion of all eligible articles that are deposited into PubMed Central and also the average embargo period for all such material.
ACRL strongly supports the principal of open access to taxpayer-funded research, and has worked actively with organizations like the Alliance for Taxpayer Access for a strong NIH public access policy.
For more information on ACRL's open access and scholarly communications efforts, including texts of the NIH letters, please visit http://www.ala.org/ala/acrl/acrlissues/scholarlycomm/scholarlycommunication.htm.
ACRL is a division of the American Library Association (ALA), representing 12,500 academic and research librarians and interested individuals. ACRL is the only individual membership organization in North America that develops programs, products and services to meet the unique needs of academic and research librarians. Its initiatives enable the higher education community to understand the role that academic libraries play in the teaching, learning and research environments.