From Open Access News
Twenty-six US Nobel laureates in science have written an open letter to Congress calling for an OA mandate at the NIH (July 8, 2007). This is actually their second such letter. The first letter (PDF), signed by 25 Nobel laureates, was sent on August 26, 2004.
Excerpt from the new letter:
As scientists and Nobel laureates, we are writing to express our strong support for the House and Senate Appropriations Committees' recent directive to the NIH to enact a mandatory policy that allows public access to published reports of work supported by the agency. We believe that the time is now for Congress to enact this enlightened policy to ensure that the results of research conducted by NIH can be more readily accessed, shared and built upon to maximize the return on our collective investment in science and to further the public good.
As we noted in a letter to Congress urging action on this policy nearly three years ago, we object to barriers that hinder, delay or block the spread of scientific knowledge supported by federal tax dollars including our own works. Thanks to the internet, we can transform the speed and ease with which the results of research can be shared and built upon. However, to our great frustration, the results of NIH-supported medical research continue to be largely inaccessible to taxpayers who have already paid for it.
Despite best intentions, the voluntary policy enacted by NIH over two years ago has simply not improved public access significantly. As active scientists, it does not surprise us that a request with neither incentives nor consequences attached to submit our articles so that they are freely available simply does not make the lengthy “to-do” lists of our colleagues. We firmly agree with NIH Director Elias Zerhouni, who indicated in his testimony to the Senate LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee this year that only a mandatory policy will be an effective policy. Requiring compliance is not a punitive measure, but rather a simple step to ensure that everyone, including scientists themselves, will reap the benefits that public access can provide. We have seen this amply demonstrated in other innovative efforts within the NIH most notably with the database that contains the outcome of the Human Genome Project.
The public at large also has a significant stake in seeing that this research is made more widely available....Librarians, physicians, health care workers, students, journalists, and investigators at thousands of academic institutions and companies are currently hindered by unnecessary costs and delays in gaining access to publicly funded research results.
Over the past three years, public access to work produced in other countries has been greatly expanded. Both government and philanthropic funding agencies in several nations have outpaced the U.S. in advancing policies for sharing the results of their funded research, with rules that are more stringent than those now employed by the NIH. In the United Kingdom alone, 5 of the 7 Research Councils and the leading foundations that support science have enacted mandatory public access policies; it is now estimated that 90% of the biomedical research funded in the U.K. is covered by a mandatory enhanced- or open-access policy.
Enhanced public access will not, of course, mean the end of medical and scientific journals at all....The experience of dozens of publishers has shown that even with embargo periods of 6 months (or shorter), journals continue to thrive. In addition, since this policy will apply only to NIH-funded research, journals will contain significant numbers of articles not covered by this requirement as well as other articles and commentary invaluable to the science community....
We strongly encourage you to realize this overdue reform by adopting language in the FY08 Appropriations measure that requires the NIH Public Access Policy to be made mandatory.
Signed by 26 Nobel Laureates:
Peter Agre, Chemistry, 2003
Sidney Altman, Chemistry, 1989
Paul Berg, Chemistry, 1980
Michael Bishop, Physiology or Medicine, 1989
Baruch Blumberg, Physiology or Medicine, 1976
Gunter Blobel, Physiology or Medicine, 1999
Paul Boyer, Chemistry, 1997
Sydney Brenner, Physiology or Medicine, 2002
Johann Deisenhofer, Chemistry, 1988
Edmond Fischer, Physiology or Medicine, 1992
Paul Greengard, Physiology or Medicine, 2000
Leland Hartwell, Physiology or Medicine, 2001
Robert Horvitz, Physiology or Medicine, 2002
Eric Kandel, Physiology or Medicine, 2000
Arthur Kornberg, Physiology or Medicine, 1959
Harold Kroto, Chemistry, 1996
Roderick MacKinnon, Chemistry, 2003
Kary Mullis, Chemistry, 1993
Ferid Murad, Physiology or Medicine, 1998
Joseph Murray, Physiology or Medicine, 1990
Marshall Nirenberg, Physiology or Medicine, 1968
Stanley Prusiner, Physiology or Medicine, 1997
Richard Roberts, Physiology or Medicine, 1993
Hamilton Smith, Physiology or Medicine, 1978
Harold Varmus, Physiology or Medicine, 1989
James Watson, Physiology or Medicine, 1962
The bill that would mandate NIH-funded research be made openly available within 1 year of publication is making it's way through the House and Senate. It has been passed by both the House and Senate Appropriations committees, and next Tuesday (July 17th, 2007) is slated to go before the whole House. But the science & medical publishers are lobbying hard against this bill! If you'd like to send a note to our congressmen and senators expressing your opinion on this matter, follow this link.
Posted by Katie Newman at July 13, 2007 4:01 PM