SPARC, Science Commons, and ARL offer options for university implementation of new NIH Public Access Policy

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White paper by leading copyright scholar helps grantees prepare for April start of NIH requirement

For immediate release
February 29, 2008

For more information, contact:
Jennifer McLennan, SPARC
(202) 631-8854
jennifer [at] arl [dot] org

Kaitlin Thaney, Science Commons
kaitlin [at] creativecommons [dot] org

Karla Hahn, ARL
(202) 296-2296
karla [at] arl [dot] org

Washington, DC and Cambridge, MA – February 29, 2008 – SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), Science Commons, and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) have jointly released a white paper to help university and medical school administrators ensure their institutions comply with public access requirements that are soon to be a condition of National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding.

Effective April 7, 2008, investigators must deposit articles stemming from NIH funding into the agency’s PubMed Central online archive, to be made publicly available no later than 12 months after publication in a journal. Complying with the National Institutes of Health Public Access Policy: Copyright Considerations and Options will help provosts, research administrators, and campus counsel understand their institution’s copyright-related obligations and options under the new Congressionally mandated policy, which was announced in January and replaces an earlier voluntary approach.

The timely analysis was prepared by Michael W. Carroll, an attorney, copyright expert, and faculty member at Villanova University law school. Carroll reviews the policy and its background, explains the legal context, and presents six alternative copyright management strategies that will help grantee institutions assure they reserve the necessary rights for articles to be made available in PubMed Central.

Carroll has been involved for several years in copyright issues as a member of the Creative Commons board and an advisor to Science Commons. In 2004 he worked with SPARC to develop the popular SPARC Author Addendum (http://www.arl.org/sparc/author/), which enables authors to reserve rights to deposit their works in open online archives.

"The benefits to biomedical research of the new NIH policy are ultimately nothing short of tremendous,” said Heather Joseph, executive director of SPARC. “The sooner we can get effective implementing mechanisms in place, the sooner researchers, institutions, and the public can put PubMed Central to work. With April implementation drawing near, this paper will be a great tool to help administrators jumpstart the local planning process.”

“Congress and the NIH recognize that the Internet makes a difference,” said John Wilbanks, Vice President of Science Commons. “Faculty authors can no longer sign away their copyrights in a business-as-usual manner when doing so means that their work will never be openly accessible over the Internet. This white paper is a step in making sure authors and universities understand how to move forward with a solid legal footing.”

Karla Hahn, Director of the ARL Office of Scholarly Communication, added, “The new NIH requirement should accelerate ongoing efforts to establish norms for authors to routinely retain rights to deposit works in local as well as national digital repositories. Carroll's much-needed analysis clarifies the new opportunities for institutions to develop strategic approaches to rights management issues.”

Complying with the National Institutes of Health Public Access Policy: Copyright Considerations and Options is available free on the SPARC Web site at http://www.arl.org/sparc/advocacy/nih/copyright.html.

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SPARC

SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), with SPARC Europe and SPARC Japan, is an international alliance of more than 800 academic and research libraries working to create a more open system of scholarly communication. SPARC’s advocacy, educational and publisher partnership programs encourage expanded dissemination of research. SPARC is on the Web at http://www.arl.org/sparc/.

Science Commons

Science Commons designs strategies and tools for faster, more efficient web-enabled scientific research. Science Commons identifies unnecessary barriers to research, crafts policy guidelines and legal agreements to lower those barriers, and develops technology to make research data and materials easier to find and use. The goal of Science Commons is to speed the translation of data into discovery and to unlock the value of research so more people can benefit from the work scientists are doing.

Association of Research Libraries

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 123 research libraries in North America. Its mission is to influence the changing environment of scholarly communication and the public policies that affect research libraries and the diverse communities they serve. ARL pursues this mission by advancing the goals of its member research libraries, providing leadership in public and information policy to the scholarly and higher education communities, fostering the exchange of ideas and expertise, and shaping a future environment that leverages its interests with those of allied organizations. ARL is located on the Web at http://www.arl.org/.