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Actions for You: Take Advantage of Public Access and Expand Its Reach

Published May 23, 2006

As a taxpaying U.S. citizen, there's a lot you can do to support the movement towards open access to scientific research.

  • Support the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006. Contact your Senator and encourage him or her to become a co-sponsor of the bill. View the ATA resource page for details and tools you can use.
  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has implemented their public access policy in the form of the NIH Manuscript Submission system (NIHMS), which scientists use to deposit their articles once they are accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. These articles, after an embargo period of up to 12 months as specified by the scientist, are made openly available in the NIH electronic archive PubMed Central. It's important that you take advantage of this resource to help meet information needs regarding health concerns for you and your family. However, as some publishers are insisting on the full 12-month embargo period for articles to be included in their journals, if you don't find what you are looking for, this may be why.
  • Let the NIH Director, Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., know that open access to taxpayer-funded research matters. Send a letter commending NIH for expanding the material available to you in PubMed Central, but also asking for greater access to the research results you helped to fund. If the NIH required that scientists deposit their work as part their grant, instead of merely requesting this action, and reduced the embargo period, you would have greater access to information that might inform your health care decision-making. Send the letter to :
    The Honorable Elias Zerhouni, M.D.
    National Institutes of Health
    9000 Rockville Pike
    Bethesda, MD 20892
  • If you are a member of an organization that represents taxpayers, patients, physicians, researchers, or work at an institution that is a stakeholder in the research and communication process, motivate them to join the Alliance for Taxpayer Access. Your organization's membership would increase the support for open public access to taxpayer-funded research at the NIH.
  • If you are a librarian your connection to the issues is important, and particularly if you work at a research institution, your access to faculty and scientists is key. While you might be knowledgeable about the problems in accessing the latest research, they might not be as aware. Help biomedical researchers and others at your institution support the NIH public access system. We encourage you to get the message to your campus about the importance and value of the NIHMS-for help in reaching out, consult this information resource prepared by an ATA member.
  • Learn more and share with others. To read about open access, there are several sites with background information and breaking developments, such as Framing the Issue: Open Access produced by the Association of Research Libraries. Also, ATA's The Case for Open Access to Taxpayer-Funded Research [PDF] summarizes the arguments.

updated: 05.23.06

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