Public Access to Public Research

Nih It's been almost exactly a year since the NIH Public Access Mandate took effect. Those of you with NIH grants know – or really, really should know - about this mandate, which requires that researchers make journal-accepted manuscripts reporting NIH-funded research publicly available. The manuscripts must be submitted to the PubMed Central database once they are accepted; depending on the wishes of the author or publisher (and remember that for most journals, you sign away your copyright to the publisher when the article is accepted), they may be held by PubMed Central for up to a year before being released. Submitting your manuscripts to PubMed Central is important: the NIH requires it and we hear that they having been checking for compliance. There are some big consequences for noncompliance (including possible grant suspension or termination) so you should make sure you're getting it done – take a look at http://publicaccess.nih.gov/ or the Mount Sinai-specific guide at http://www.mssm.edu/library/reference/nih.shtml for more information.

You may also know that this issue has been controversial: proponents argue that research funded by taxpayer dollars should be available to everyone, instead of only to researchers at institutions that can afford to subscribe to peer-reviewed journals (remember that institutional journal subscriptions frequently cost up to tens of thousands of dollars per year). Opponents say this mandate threatens the centuries-old subscription model, and maybe even peer review and scholarly communication in its entirety. There's been a lot of information published about the issue, everywhere from Nature to the Washington Post to the blogosphere.

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