NIH Research to be Publicly Available Online

On December 26, 2007, President Bush signed a spending bill that requires the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) to mandate open online access to all research it funds.

nihlogo.gif This is the first mandate for a major public funding agency in the US that requires research to be openly available; it changes the 2005 NIH Public Access Policy, which requested, but did not require, open access to NIH-funded research.

The new language stipulates that investigators funded by the NIH submit their peer-reviewed manuscripts to the National Library of Medicine’s open access repository PubMed Central when the manuscript is accepted for publication.  The manuscript would then become openly available via PubMed Central within 12 months of publication in a journal.  The policy will be implemented “in a manner consistent with copyright law.”

The mandate will apply to a vast amount of research. Aside from classified military research, the NIH is the world’s largest funder of scientific research, with a 2007 budget of $28 billion. According to open access commentator Peter Suber, NIH research funds “65,000 peer-reviewed articles every year or 178 every day.”  At MIT, NIH funds account for about one-third of the research dollars awarded annually.

More information on the mandate is available from the Alliance for Taxpayer Access and from Peter Suber.

If MIT authors have questions, please contact