NIH plans public access to research results

The National Institutes of Health proposed making its biomedical research results available to the public through a searchable database, the most fundamental way to collect and disseminate this information, the agency said in a notice at its Web site.

NIH, an agency of the Health and Human Services Department, said it intends to request that scientists who receive any NIH funding for their research provide it with electronic copies of all final version manuscripts upon acceptance for publication. An electronic version of final manuscripts will be part of the annual grant progress review and closeout process.

'It is essential to ensure that scientific information arising from NIH-funded research is available in a timely fashion to other scientists, health care providers, students, teachers, and the many millions of Americans searching the web to obtain credible health-related information,' said the notice.

The agency will archive these manuscripts and any appropriate supplementary information in PubMed Central, NIH's digital repository for biomedical research. Six months after an NIH supported research study's publication, the manuscript will be made available freely to the public through the database.

NIH expects this new process will increase the efficiency of the application and review process. Scientists applying for new and competing renewal support from NIH will provide links in their applications to their PubMed archived information.

However, NIH said it must balance this need with the ability of journals and publishers to preserve their critical role in the peer review, editing and scientific quality control process. Journals depend on subscriptions, which give professionals access to newly published research.

NIH seeks public comments for 60 days on the short-term impact of its plans.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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