Under a new National Institutes of Health (NIH) public access policy, which is designed to provide easier access to tax supported research, researchers who receive grant money from the National Institutes of Health will be "asked" to submit their results to a public Web site within a year after they are published in a scientific journal.

In this split-the-baby compromise, the NIH backed off its original proposal to require such disclosure. Publishers of scientific journals, fearing that free access would undermine their subscription base, lobbied hard to against it. Advocates argued that taxpayers should not have to pay subscription or per-article fees to see the results of federally supported medical research and that it applies only to about 10% of published articles. Both sides were left dissapointed.

Proponents of free access felt that the policy should have required disclosure instead of leaving it up to scientists to decide. Now, researchers will risk the wrath of publishers if they allow free access. While no one wants to see their market share threatened, I don’t think publishers should be put ahead of taxpayers.

Upon acceptance for publication, authors will be asked to submit their articles to PubMed Central (PMC), an NIH digital repository of full-text, peer-reviewed biomedical, behavioral, and clinical research journals. It is a publicly-accessible, permanent, and searchable electronic archive available on the Internet at http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/.

Details of the new policy can be seen here.

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