Support the NIH's Public Access Policy

April 7, 2011 marks the third anniversary of the National Institutes of Health’s public access policy. This policy ensures the public has stable access to the published results of NIH funded research. The resources that have been published under this policy have lead to a substantial growth in free and accessible research to the public.

If you’re a faculty member at U-M looking for more information on how this policy applies to you, check out the Copyright Office’s overview.

This anniversary marks an opportunity for those who use these resources to advocate for the expansion of this successful NIH policy to other federal agencies. The Right to Research Coalition has provided an overview of talking points for this call to action that we encourage you to review. They’re looking for you to answer this call to action by April 14.

The results from NIH projects are published in PubMed Central, the NIH’s digital archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature. Right now, PubMed Central contains nearly 2 million articles and the number of free (and, in some cases, openly licensed) resources is growing. PubMed Central has also been an advocate for open licenses, making efforts to support and promote the openly licensed materials through the PMC Open Access Subset. PubMed Central and PubMed are invaluable resources to students and professionals in the biomedical fields.

Closely related to this policy is another opportunity for U-M faculty to contribute to the growth of openly accessible knowledge and information. COPE (the Compact for Open-Access Publishing Equity) includes a consortium of universities, including U-M, that have pledged to publish in open access journals. One of the ways they support faculty is by subsidizing author publication fees. Learn more about this at the Library’s COPE FAQ.

Here is an example of student talking points from the Right to Research Coalition for use in conjunction with the call to action issued March 30, 2011.

The following talking points are tailored to Dr. Francis Collins, the Director of the NIH. As always, please adapt and expand as needed to suit your unique voice.

  • [Describe your organization]
  • Offer congratulations as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) marks the third anniversary of its highly successful Public Access Policy.
  • Note that the NIH and Director Collins have shown tremendous leadership in implementing the first U.S. policy to ensure that all students and other members of the public – including patients and their families, health care professionals, researchers, entrepreneurs and business owners – are guaranteed free online access to articles reporting on the results of research that their tax dollars support.
  • As result of the NIH’s commitment to public access, every student can now take advantage of an invaluable new resource in the more than two million full-text articles in PubMed Central (PMC).
  • [Describe you and/or your organization’s interests and use of PMC and why this is important for you]
  • Due to the high and increasing cost of many journals, students are often forced to make do with the fraction of journals their institution can afford rather than what they need. Furthermore, educators cannot teach what they cannot read, meaning inaccessible articles don’t find their way into the classes in which they should be taught.
  • The NIH public access policy allows all students and educators access to the results of NIH-funded research that are crucial for a complete, up-to-date education in biomedical fields, regardless of their institution’s ability to pay for journal subscriptions.
  • We ask that you consider shortening the embargo period for accessing articles reporting on NIH-funded research to six months or less.
  • A six-month embargo will significantly enhance students’ ability to get the most up-to-date education.  With the fast pace of biomedical research, a shorter embargo period means students can hit the ground running after graduation rather than relying on potentially outdated information.
  • [Add your own conclusion]
  • [Thanks and offer of follow up]


Dr. Francis Collins
Director, National Institutes of Health

1 Center Drive, MSC 0148 (Room 126)
Bethesda, MD 20892-0148
Fax: 301-402-2700

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