Re: Simple Way to Optimize the NIH Public Access Policy

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Fri, 29 Oct 2004 13:58:06 +0100 (BST)

David, you did not read my proposal carefully. I did not propose any
change whatsoever in NIH centralized archiving (in PubMed Central). I
referred only to the means by which fundees provide their full-texts,
an implementational detail which does not change the NIH proposal
itself in any way:

The current proposal specifies that fundees should email NIH their
texts. I simply asked that NIH offer fundees the option of just emailing
NIH the URL of the institutionally self-archived version of their text
(OR email NIH their texts, as now).

That implicitly encourages institutional self-archiving without changing
anything in the NIH central archiving objective (in PubMed Central).

On Fri, 29 Oct 2004, David Goodman wrote:

> Dear Stevan,
> Calling a change tiny does not make it so.

Please re-read, carefully.

> As the proposed US plan continues to be the centralized archive model, and
> not your preferred distributed archive model,
> you now suggest that both models be simultaneously available.

I said nothing about models. I simply spoke about submission options: the ways
authors can provide the full-texts NIH requests.

> What OA does not need now is further complications.

What OA needs now is further OA. The additional submission option I
recommended -- an implementational detail, not a substantive change
at all -- is not only not a complication, and merely another option
for how the text can be submitted, but it is also a potential way to
simplify the submission process, by automating it, as well as a way to
monitor compliance, and also to extend the harvesting of texts for NIH
to those that are not funded by NIH (if they too are institutionally

> You accept centralized archives. That is what the NIH is proposing, and an
> excellent structure for it already exists,
> Therefore you and the rest of us should support the proposal exactly
> as it is to start with,
> even if we think we could have done better--as most of us do in our different ways.

Please re-read my actual recommendation, David. It fully accepts NIH's central
archiving and simply suggests a fully compatible implementational detail
that will serve to accelerate and spread institutional archiving too, simply by
specifying it as a mode of submission to NIH.

(Please carefully distinguish my specific recommendation from the excerpts
I quoted at the bottom from the UK JISC study, which does indeed give many
reasons for preferring institutional to central archiving. A careful
reading will show that the quoted excerpts are there in support of the benefits
of this parallel promotion of institutional self-archiving, alongside
NIH's central archiving; I did not recommend that NIH drop central
archiving at all. This was merely an implementational detail, compatible
with both, and in particular 100% congruent with exactly what NIH proposes
to do. It merely adds an alternative way of submitting the texts that can kill two
birds with one stone.)

> For this year, you can more usefully apply your persuasive skills to the
> remaining societies who
> are still trying to stop OA altogether, and who look upon "tiny" last minute changes
> such as this as good opportunities for further delay.

It is not societies but you, David, who are making the error of assuming that a
suggestion that the texts be submitted not only by email but also by URL means
that I do not fully accept and welcome the NIH proposal! (Would you have said
the same thing if I had suggested that the format of the submission should
be either encrypted or unencrypted?)

> For next year, the worst flaws in the current NIH proposal are the
> acceptance of the 6 month
> embargo, and the limitation to the NIH. All supporters of OA would agree that these
> are serious weaknesses, just as you have repeatedly said. Improving those
> should be the next project. Next year, after the current project is realized.

Yes, those are flaws, and should and will be corrected. But I wrote about an
implementational detail that can already start correcting the limitation to
NIH-funded research without changing the NIH proposal in any way.

> (I do not discuss whether the decentralized IRs proposed in the UK are appropriate
> to that academic system. The writers of the report have much experience there, and their
> combined authority is worth serious consideration, especially as it supports
> their own country's proposal. Perhaps the US shall learn from the UK alternative
> perhaps the UK shall learn from that of the US. We shall soon have evidence
> to replace extrapolation, and it is not useful to speculate now.)

It is irrelevant whether or not the UK report would have persuaded NIH to do
otherwise had it been written a few years ago. It is too late now to change the
NIH plan and it was not intended to. It was appended in support of the benefits of
the tiny implementational detail I recommended: It reveals the reasons why
this recommended *parallel* boost for institutional self-archiving of both
NIH and, most importantly, non-NIH research across disciplines -- simply
by specifying that one of the ways to submit to NIH is to self-archive
the paper in the author's own institutional archive, and simply email
NIH the URL, rather than the text itself -- will be so beneficial.

> What is useful, is for all to support what they can currently get in their own
> situations. Such is the compromise inherent to political solutions.

It might perhaps be even more useful to re-read and understand what has
actually been recommended.


> Dr. David Goodman
> Palmer School of Library and Information Science
> >From: SPARC Open Access Forum on behalf of Stevan Harnad
> >Sent: Thu 10/28/2004 11:10 PM
> >To: SPARC Open Access Forum
> >Subject: A Simple Way to Optimize the NIH Public Access Policy
> >Below is an extremely simple suggestion for NIH that, if adopted, will
> >give the NIH public access policy for NIH-funded research articles an
> >impact far, far beyond just the research that NIH funds: The practice
> >of providing Open Access to articles through self-archiving will spread
> >across all other departments at each NIH fundee's institution and will
> >quickly bring us all closer to Open Access for *all* research articles,
> >in all fields, in all institutions.
> The current wording of the NIH policy is this:
> "NIH intends to request that its grantees and supported Principal
> Investigators provide the NIH with electronic copies of all final
> version manuscripts upon acceptance for publication if the research
> was supported in whole or in part by NIH funding... We define final
> manuscript as the author's version resulting after all modifications
> due to the peer review process. Submission of the final manuscript
> will provide NIH supported investigators with an alternate means by
> which they will meet and fulfill the requirement of the provision
> of one copy of each publication in the annual or final progress
> reports. Submission of the electronic versions of final manuscripts
> will be monitored as part of the annual grant progress review and
> close-out process."
> This wording is fine, and all it needs in order to promote, at the very
> same time, the much wider objective of encouraging all non-NIH research to be
> made open-access too, is the following simple -- but critically important
> -- additional passage (specifying the *way* in which the submission to
> NIH can be done):
> ....
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Received on Fri Oct 29 2004 - 13:58:06 BST

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