U.S.: House Backs Taxpayer-Funded Research Access

From the Alliance for Taxpayer Access (Chemists Without Borders is a member).

Final Appropriations Bill Mandates Free Access to NIH Research Findings

Washington, D.C. ­ July 20, 2007 ­ In what advocates hailed as a major
advance for scientific communication, the U.S. House of Representatives
yesterday approved a measure directing the National Institutes of Health
(NIH) to provide free public online access to agency-funded research
findings within 12 months of their publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
With broad bipartisan support, the House passed the provision as part of the
FY2008 Labor, HHS, and Education Appropriations Bill.

³The House has affirmed the principle that broad sharing of publicly funded
research findings on the Internet is an essential component of our nation¹s
investment in science,² said Heather Joseph, Executive Director of SPARC
(the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), and a leader of
the Alliance for Taxpayer Access (ATA). ³This action paves the way for all
scientists and citizens to access, use, and benefit from the results of
publicly funded biomedical research.²

³We¹re pleased by Congress¹s recognition of the fundamental rationale for
public access ­ that better-informed patients, clinicians, and researchers
will mean better health outcomes,² said Sharon Terry, President of the
Genetic Alliance and an ATA activist. ³The time has come to sweep away
unnecessary barriers to understanding and treating disease. The Genetic
Alliance thanks and congratulates the House of Representatives for taking
this vital step.²

The current NIH Public Access Policy, implemented in 2005 as a voluntary
measure, has resulted in the deposit of less than 5% of eligible research by
individual investigators.

In a recent letter to Congress, 26 Nobel Laureates called for enactment of
mandatory NIH public access, noting that, “requiring compliance is not a
punitive measure, but rather a simple step to ensure that everyone,
including scientists themselves, will reap the benefits that public access
can provide. We have seen this amply demonstrated in other innovative
efforts within the NIH ­ most notably with the database that contains the
outcome of the Human Genome Project.²

³The coalition of support for the NIH policy is extremely broad,² added
Joseph. ³This critical step was achieved as a result of the vision and
collective effort of patient groups, scientists, researchers, publishers,
students, and consumers who registered their support.²

A similar measure has been approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee
and will be considered by the full Senate later this summer.

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