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"Life After NIH"

    Andrew R. Albanese "Life After NIH" (Library Journal, April 15 2005)

In this article today about the NIH 6-12-month Back Access "Request"
Policy, Albanese asks "After a flawed policy, what's next for librarians
and open access?"

    "SPARC executive director Rick Johnson, one of the NIH proposal's most
    ardent supporters says... 'I see open access as a means to introduce
    market forces into a system that largely is devoid of them. Our task
    is to break this monopoly and at the same time enable a competitive,
    dynamic market for services that add value to research.'"

I instead see open access as open access. I see our immediate task
as reaching 100% open access, already well within reach, as soon as
possible. I think we are already quite late.

    "Johnson says it is a mistake to take the current NIH policy at
    face value and that the public discussion SPARC has helped fuel will
    crystallize into success for open access. 'Without such a clear symbol
    of why we need open access, change on a broad scale would occur at
    a slower pace,' he says. 'I am convinced that Congress will not be
    satisfied with a de facto 12-month embargo, and I can't imagine the
    NIH will be either... The current [NIH] policy is not the end of
    the discussion... We'll soon know what percentages of eligible
    papers make their way into PubMed Central and the average delay in
    public availability. If the result does not respond to the wishes
    of Congress, then I expect NIH will make adjustments.'"

I think our pace could not possibly be slower and that waiting several
more years to weigh the "percentage of papers" and the "average delay"
of NIH Back Access and then "make adjustments" is an extremely bad idea.

There is an immediate alternative, which is to adopt and promote the more
recent and optimal Berlin-3 Policy recommendation (formulated this month
at an international meeting in Southampton UK) instead of the flawed
NIH policy.


The two policies differ in 4 critical respects:

    NIH: self-archive up to 6-12 months after publication
    B-3: self-archive immediately upon publication

    NIH: self-archive only NIH-funded research
    B-3: self-archive all institutional research output

    NIH: self-archive in PubMed Central
    B-3: self-archive in researcher's own institutional archive

    NIH: request self-archiving
    B-3: require self-archiving

There are already several hundred institutional archives worldwide, but
most are near-empty, because most have not yet adopted a self-archiving


About a dozen of these institutions, however, *have* adopted a 
self-archiving policy, and some of the biggest of these (CNRS, INRIA,
CERN) -- approaching a bigger total research output than NIH, and
across all disciplines (not just biomedicine) -- adopted their policy
this month, as a direct result of the Berlin-3 policy recommendation:


The world now has a clear choice: To wait and see the outcome of the
NIH policy, and then perhaps "make adjustments," or to get it right the
first time, by adopting Berlin-3 and providing Open Access now.

Institutions adopting a self-archiving policy are invited to register
and describe it, so as to encourage emulation by others, at:


Stevan Harnad