The National Institutes of Health will begin holding back grant money as soon as this spring for NIH-funded researchers who do not comply with the agency’s public access policy. Since 2008, NIH has required its grantees to place their research papers in a public archive within one year of publication, but only about 75% of eligible papers have been deposited.
Until now, NIH has relied on outreach to persuade grantees to place their publications in the online database known as PubMed Central, says Sally Rockey, head of extramural research at NIH. “But our work is not done as there are still publications—and as a consequence, NIH awards—that are not in compliance,” she writes on her Rock Talk blog. As a result, NIH will delay processing of continuation grant awards as soon as next spring if papers stemming from those grants are not handled in compliance with the NIH public access policy.
Mandated by Congress in 2008, NIH’s public access policy aims to make the results of taxpayer-funded research freely accessible to everyone. The policy has led to more than 250,000 papers being deposited in PubMed Central. “On a typical weekday over 700,000 users retrieve more than 1.5 million papers” from the database, Rockey notes.
Advocates for increased access to the results of publicly funded research welcome the announcement. “I can’t think of a better way to get the attention of principal investigators,” says Peter Suber, director of the Harvard Open Access Project.