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April 7, 2008 – NIH Public Access Policy implemented today

The NIH public access policy goes into effect today – now all NIH funded research articles must be deposited in PubMed Central (PMC) upon publication. The easiest way for researchers to comply with the new law is to publish with PLoS because we have always automatically deposited complete articles in PMC.

It’s been a long and winding road to get to this point and PLoS has been closely involved from the very beginning. Inspired by the desire to harness the potential of the internet to foster faster, freer exchange of biomedical knowledge, Harold Varmus, then director of the National Institutes of Health, proposed an electronic publishing site called E-biomed that would provide barrier-free access to the peer-reviewed and pre peer-reviewed scientific literature. After a period of public review (during which E-biomed met with fierce opposition from established publishers, sound familiar?), Dr. Varmus announced the creation of PubMed Central. Launched in February 2000, PMC is the NIH’s free digital archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature and is the repository into which all NIH funded research articles must be deposited from today.

The more recent timeline (which probably started back in 2004 and included a period of voluntary compliance with the policy that was not particularly successful) leading up to this important day was neatly encapsulated by the current director of the NIH Elias Zerhouni during his presentation (view at 15.05 minutes) at the recent NIH Open Meeting seeking public comment on the implementation of the new policy (mandated by President Bush on December 26 2007). The Library Journal wrote this interesting piece after the meeting entitled NIH Public Comments Reveal Librarian Support, Publisher Anxiety.

On this important day, for those of you in the NIH research community who are publishing their work, I’d like to recommend this resource from our friends at SPARC who have worked so hard with many many others to make today a reality. In closing, I think I can be forgiven for reminding you once again to send your work to us, we really do make it quick and simple for you to comply with the new law!

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