The debate over whether research results should be freely accessible has always been fraught. Having given a lot of ground, journal publishers are determined to hang on to one last bastion: their rights to the published version of scientific articles. Now librarians and open-access advocates have set their sights on that final prize — by encouraging researchers to demand the right to distribute the published versions freely and immediately.
Funding agencies are increasingly adopting policies to make the results of the research they fund free for all. Both the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Britain's Wellcome Trust, for example, encourage this practice. They ask that the version of a manuscript accepted for publication be put in an open-access library such as PubMed Central within 6–12 months of it coming out. The Wellcome Trust's policy will become compulsory on 1 October, and legislation that would make the NIH policy mandatory is pending in the US Congress.
Ann Wolpert, director of libraries at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has launched an initiative that she says will clearly assign rights to the author in a way that would satisfy funders. Wolpert has drawn up a document that researchers can add on to the rights agreement the publisher gives them to sign. Similar agreements have been drafted by the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition and the MIT-affiliated Science Commons.
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Nature (Published Online 7/12/06)
Posted by P. Kaufman at July 13, 2006 7:18 AM