NIH public access policy implementation – available resources, a letter to SPARC directors

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Date: February 5, 2008
To: SPARC Directors
From: Heather Joseph, SPARC Executive Director
Re: NIH public access policy implementation – available resources

Dear SPARC Directors,

On January 11, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced its “Revised Policy on Enhancing Public Access to Archived Publications Resulting from NIH-Funded Research,” which will take effect on April 7, 2008.

The new NIH policy represents a unique opportunity for science, scientists, and the higher education community. It will greatly expand access to the more than 70,000 articles that result each year from NIH funding, and enable scientists to pioneer new kinds of computational research that can only occur in the open environment of which NIH’s PubMed Central (PMC) online archive is a vital part. NIH public access will foster development of new research tools, open doors to new research avenues, and advance scientific discovery.

The pending implementation presents an opportune time to highlight the benefits of the NIH public access policy to your administration, grant offices, general counsel, and researchers – ensuring that those affected understand both the opportunity and the responsibilities the policy brings with it.

The new policy was enacted as part of the recent Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2007. The law – and now NIH’s implementing policy – requires NIH-funded researchers to deposit (or have deposited for them) a copy of eligible manuscripts into PMC, to be made publicly available no later than 12 months after publication in a peer-reviewed journal. The policy indicates that it is the responsibility of the investigator to retain the rights necessary to deposit with PMC.

The NIH has provided a comprehensive set of resources to explain the details of the policy:

• The text of the law (
• The full NIH policy (
• How to comply (
• Demo of how to deposit in PubMed Central (
• Frequently asked questions (

You also may find it useful to refer researchers on your campus to these resources provided by NIH:

• List of journals that currently deposit articles in PMC on behalf of their authors (
• Article from NIH’s Office Extramural Research Newsletter outlining what the new policy means to NIH-funded investigators

As you and your institution’s administrators explore local approaches to education and compliance, please keep in mind these additional helpful resources that are currently available:

• SPARC Web resource on the NIH policy (

• The SPARC Author Addendum, which specifically enables authors to retain the rights they need to deposit articles in PMC after publication in a journal. (

• The Scholar’s Copyright Addendum Generator, from SPARC and Science Commons, which offers authors the choice of four different sets of rights in addenda that may be completed online. (

• The SPARC Author Rights Forum, a new, private discussion list where libraries can together explore the needs and opportunities that emerge as they consider how best to implement this policy. (To request membership, send any message to The list is moderated by Kevin Smith, JD, of Duke University Libraries.

We encourage you to help make certain that accurate, timely, and positive information about the policy is shared with your research offices and general counsel. Issues for examination will likely include:

• Supporting deposit of manuscripts in PMC or encouraging publication in journals that do this for them.
• Ensuring that necessary rights are reserved in agreements with journal publishers.
• Evaluating the need for institutional policies addressing investigators’ obligations.
• Deciding whether or how to monitor institutional compliance.

Over the coming weeks and months, SPARC will highlight steps that can be taken to facilitate a successful rollout of the policy and to identify best practices from a range of institutions. We invite you to share your experiences with us on the SPARC Author Rights Discussion Forum or by emailing us, via Jennifer McLennan, at