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December 27, 2007

Public Access Mandate Now Law

Yesterday, President Bush signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008 (H.R. 2764), which includes a provision directing the National Institutes of Health to provide the public with open online access to findings from its funded research. This is the first time the U.S. government has mandated public access to research funded by a major agency.

Readers may recall that the NIH's existing public access policy was implemented as a voluntary measure in 2005. With the enactment of this new law, researchers will be required to deposit electronic copies of their peer-reviewed manuscripts into PubMed Central, the National Library of Medicine's online repository, no later than 12 months after publication in a journal.

Many leading scientists, patient advocates, librarians, and others had lobbied for years to make research funded by tax dollars accessible to the public. This new mandate now will provide unfettered access to scientific findings for everyone seeking them.

The text of the law reads:

SEC. 218. The Director of the National Institutes of Health shall require that all investigators funded by the NIH submit or have submitted for them to the National Library of Medicine's PubMed Central an electronic version of their final, peer-reviewed manuscripts upon acceptance for publication, to be made publicly available no later than 12 months after the official date of publication: Provided, That the NIH shall implement the public access policy in a manner consistent with copyright law.

Posted by P. Kaufman at December 27, 2007 7:15 AM