Re: A Simple Way to Optimize the NIH Public Access Policy

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Sat, 18 Feb 2006 05:44:43 +0000

In Open Access News
Peter Suber describes a "New Elsevier policy on NIH-funded authors"
which informs Elsevier authors:

    "Elsevier will submit to PubMed Central on your behalf a version of
    your manuscript that will include peer-review comments, for public
    access posting 12 months after the final publication date. This will
    ensure that you will have responded fully to the NIH request policy.
    There will be no need for you to post your manuscript directly
    to PubMed Central, and any such posting is prohibited (although
    Elsevier will not request that manuscripts authored and posted by
    US government employees should be taken down from PubMed Central)."

Peter criticizes this Elsevier policy, but I think it is the NIH policy,
not the Elsevier policy, that needs the criticism (and correction).

Elsevier's author self-archiving policy is as constructive and
progressive as anyone could wish, and perfectly sufficient for
100% OA:

    "You can post your version of your article on your personal web page
    or the web site of your institution, provided that you include a
    link to the journal's home page or the article's DOI and include a
    complete citation for the article. This means that you can update
    your version (e.g. the Word or Tex form) to reflect changes made
    during the peer review and editing process."

It is NIH that has been persistently and needlessly foolish, despite
being fully forewarned. NIH has pointlessly insisted that the deposit must
be in a 3rd-party central repository, PubMed Central (PMC), instead of
the author's own institutional repository (from which PMC could easily
harvest the metadata, linking to the full-text of the article). As a
result, NIH has gotten itself stuck with a 12-month embargo as
well as an interdiction against depositing directly in PMC.

And besides insisting that (1) the deposit *must* be in PMC, NIH has not
even put any muscle behind its "must" -- merely (2) requesting, rather
than requiring, that its authors deposit -- and (3) deposit within 12
months, not immediately upon acceptance for publication.

Hence the NIH policy has virtually invited an embargo upon itself --
and for no reason whatsoever, as all the benefits of 100% OA can be had
without (1) - (3) by simply *requiring* immediate deposit in the
author's own IR (and simply harvesting and linking from PMC).

One can only hope that NIH will follow the lead of the UK Select
Committee, RCUK and Berlin-3, and get it right the next time. (Note that
although the CURES Act would be an improvement, a mandate is not enough:
It must be a mandate for *immediate deposit*, and deposit in the author's
*own institutional repository*.):

    Pertinent Prior AmSci Topic Threads:

"Elsevier Science Policy on Public Web Archiving Needs Re-Thinking" (Sep 1998)

"Elsevier Gives Authors Green Light for Open Access Self-Archiving" (May 2004)

"A Simple Way to Optimize the NIH Public Access Policy" (Oct 2004)

"Please Don't Copy-Cat Clone NIH-12 Non-OA Policy!" (Jan 2005)

"Open Access vs. NIH Back Access and Nature's Back-Sliding" (Jan 2005)

"DASER 2 IR Meeting and NIH Public Access Policy" (Dec 2005)

"The U.S. CURES Act would mandate OA" (Jan 2006)

Stevan Harnad

American Scientist Open Access Forum
Received on Sat Feb 18 2006 - 06:07:53 GMT

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