Press Release

Public Knowledge Disappointed In New Open Access Policy

February 3, 2005 ,

For Immediate Release

Background: Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt today announced his department's policy on open-access publishing of government-funded research. The policy requests the authors of scientific papers to make their work available for free, online as soon as possible and within 12 months of the official date of publication.

Statement of Peter Suber, director of Public Knowledge's Open Access Project:

“I regret that the National Institutes of Health has scaled back its open-access policy. It is a retreat from the version the agency first proposed and for which public comment was overwhelmingly favorable.

“The chief problem with the new rule is that it could significantly delay public access to publicly-funded medical research. It could even mean that the public will never have access to some of it at all. The new rule also creates a difficult dilemma for NIH-funded scientists by forcing them to choose between their funding agency and their publisher. The NIH will ask authors to choose early public release and many publishers will ask authors to choose late public release.

“This policy is a step backward from the House of Representatives' wishes that NIH 'require' free online access after six months. In the end it looks like the publishers had more clout with NIH than scientists or taxpayers. The policy is better than nothing, but is a lot less than taxpayers deserved.”