If we want others to care, we as members of the scientific community must express our support for the House and Senate Appropriations Committees’ recent directives to the NIH to enact a mandatory policy that allows public access to published reports of work supported by the agency.
Effective this week, both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have proposed FY08 spending bills that direct the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to change its Public Access Policy so that NIH-funded researchers are required to deposit copies of NIH-funded research into the online archive of the National Library of Medicine.
These bills now go to the full House and the Senate for approval. To help ensure success there, we ask that all supporters contact their Representatives AND Senators with support of the proposed bills by phone or fax as soon as possible. The House is expected to convene on Tuesday, July 17, so we ask that Representatives be contacted no later than MONDAY afternoon.
Contacting your Representatives and Senators:
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Feel free to draw upon the following talking points, or use your own creative arguments:
- The Fiscal Year 2008 Labor/HHS Appropriations Bill reported out of committee contains language directing the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to change its Public Access Policy so that it requires NIH-funded researchers to deposit copies of agency-funded research articles into the National Library of Medicine's online archive.
- This change is necessary for the policy to achieve its goals: to expand use of NIH research findings, enhance management of NIH's substantial research portfolio, and provide for a sustainable archive of research results funded with U.S. tax dollars.
- Widespread dissemination of research results is an essential, inseparable component of our nation's investment in science and a right of the American taxpayer. It is only through use that we obtain value from this investment, so the open sharing of medical advances and scientific findings will increase and accelerate the return of benefits to taxpayers.
- Public access to research will drive taxpayer benefits such as accelerated scientific advancement, enhanced national competitiveness, and improved public health.
- Unfortunately, access to scientific and medical publications has lagged behind the wide reach of the Internet into U.S. homes and institutions. Fees for access to federally supported research unnecessarily limit U.S. taxpayer access to findings that result from the outlay of public funds.
- Mandatory NIH public access removes imposing barriers, making the results of taxpayer-funded research readily available online at no extra charge to every scientist as well as to small businesses, patients, physicians and clinicians, students and educators, and the American public — without disrupting the important peer-review process.
- Over the more than two years since its implementation, the NIH's current voluntary policy has failed to achieve any of the agency's stated goals, attaining a deposit rate of less than 5% by individual researchers. A mandate is required to ensure deposit in NIH's online archive of articles describing findings of all research funded by the agency.
- Mandatory public access to taxpayer-funded research at the NIH has the full support of the NIH Director, as well as broad bipartisan support in Congress.
- We urge Congress to approve without change the language included in the Labor/HHS Appropriations bill directing the NIH to implement a mandatory policy ensuring free, timely access to all research articles stemming from NIH-funded research.
This is a great opportunity. Please make sure that Congress hears from scientists before the upcoming votes.