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Congressional Support Builds for Access to Publicly Funded Research

Published Jul 13, 2007


For immediate release
July 13, 2007

Contact:
Jennifer McLennan
jennifer [at] arl [dot] org
(202) 296-2296 ext. 121

Congressional Support Builds for Access
to Publicly Funded Research

Mandatory NIH Policy Headed to Full House and Senate Votes

Washington, D.C. - July 13, 2007 - The U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee has joined its Senate counterpart in directing the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to ensure that the agency's funded research is made freely available on the Internet.

Both the House and Senate appropriators have now backed provisions in their respective 2008 Labor, Health and Education Appropriations Bills that would expand access to NIH research. Final votes by the full House and Senate are expected later this summer.

The Alliance for Taxpayer Access (ATA), a public interest coalition that has long called for public access to taxpayer funded research, applauded Congress's progress on this issue. "We're gratified to have strong bipartisan support for public access in both the House and the Senate," said Heather Joseph, Executive Director of SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), an ATA member. "Given the breadth of support and the similarity of instructions to NIH from Committee's in each chamber of Congress, we are hopeful that this policy will soon be law."

The House and Senate spending bills require that NIH-funded researchers deposit an electronic copy of their peer-reviewed manuscripts in the National Library of Medicine's PubMed Central online archive upon acceptance for publication in a journal. Articles would be made publicly available no later than 12 months after publication.

Under the current voluntary NIH Public Access Policy implemented in May 2005, individual investigators have deposited less than five percent of eligible manuscripts. "NIH's well-intentioned voluntary policy just isn't getting the job done," said Sharon Terry, President of the Genetic Alliance, an ATA member. "There's too much at stake to delay further. Patients, medical researchers, clinicians, small businesses -- they all need timely access to research findings. It's time they have it."

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The Alliance for Taxpayer Access is a coalition of patient, academic, research, and publishing organizations that supports open public access to the results of federally funded research. The Alliance was formed in 2004 to urge that peer-reviewed articles stemming from taxpayer-funded research become fully accessible and available online at no extra cost to the American public. Details on the ATA may be found at http://www.taxpayeraccess.org. For further information on the legislation: http://thomas.loc.gov/home/approp/app08.html

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