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Anneliese Taylor
Anneliese is the Head of Scholarly Communication. Contact Anneliese for help evaluating journals and publishers, assessing research impact, and for scholarly publishing resources.

NIH Announces Plan to Revise their Public Access Policy, Invites Comments

By Anneliese Taylor and Ariel Deardorff, Data Services Librarian

In accordance with 2022 guidance from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), the NIH has released the NIH Plan to Enhance Public Access to the Results of NIH-Supported Research. Comments on the proposed plan are invited from all interested individuals via a Request for Information and may be submitted through April 24, 2023. 

NIH and all other federal agencies that provide research and development (R&D) expenditures are responding to an August 2022 OSTP Memo. The memo recommends an update to public access policies which make publications and research data funded by taxpayers immediately publicly accessible, without an embargo.  

UCSF’s NIH-funded researchers are familiar with NIH’s current Public Access Policy for publications. The policy requires the full text of publications to be made publicly accessible in PubMed Central no more than 12 months after publication, and with the Data Management and Sharing Policy (which went into effect in January 2023).  

The core recommendations in OSTP’s memo to federal funders are to: 

  1. Update their public access policies as soon as possible, and no later than December 31st, 2025, to make publications and their supporting data resulting from federally funded research publicly accessible as soon as they are released 
  2. Establish transparent procedures that ensure scientific and research integrity is maintained in public access policies 
  3. Coordinate with OSTP to ensure equitable delivery of federally funded research results and data 

What changes has NIH announced? 

The NIH’s Plan to Enhance Public Access to the Results of NIH-Supported Research was released on February 21, 2023. Key points of the much more detailed plan touch on four areas: 

  1. Scientific Data 
  2. Scholarly Publications 
    • PubMed Central (PMC) will remain NIH’s designed repository for publications. 
    • Implementation will be modified to ensure that scholarly publications resulting from NIH-supported research are made available in PMC without embargo following publication. 
    • NIH proposes to clarify the official date of publication to be when the article is first published, either online or in print. 
    • Authors may continue to deposit (or have deposited) their final accepted manuscripts in the NIHMS System at the time of publication in a journal, or to publish in journals that facilitate submission of the final published article to PMC (see the Library’s guide to these methods). 
    • NIH will continue to: support and improve upon accessible and machine-readable records; clarify and enable use and re-use rights; allow reasonable publication costs in NIH grants; and monitor trends in publication fees and policies. 
  3. Mechanisms to Increase Findability and Transparency of Research 
    • NIH will update the NIH Public Access Policy Plan regarding persistent identifiers (PIDs) and metadata and will provide opportunities for public comment at several points. 
    • Examples of PIDS include unique identifiers such as the Digital Object Identifier (DOI), PMCID for a record in PubMed Central, NCT number for clinical trial registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, and a GenBank accession number for each genetic sequence submitted to GenBank. 

When will these changes go into effect? 

Changes will be implemented in stages, depending on the component: 

  • Data: The NIH Data Management and Sharing policy went into effect on January 25, 2023. 
  • Publications: The NIH Public Access Policy will be updated no later than December 31, 2024, with an effective data no later than December 31, 2025. 
  • Persistent identifiers (PIDS) and metadata: NIH will submit its updated plan to the OSTP by December 31, 2024. The final plan will be published by December 31, 2026, with an effective date no later than December 31, 2027.  

The Library will share news of NIH updates to its Public Access Policy as they are announced. 

What feedback is NIH seeking? 

While NIH’s current Request for Information seeks comments and information from all interested individuals and communities regarding all elements of the NIH Public Access Plan, they are most interested in submissions regarding: 

  1. Section III, Scholarly Publications 
  2. How to best ensure equity in publication opportunities for NIH-supported investigators 
  3. Steps for improving equity in access and accessibility of publications 
  4. Methods for monitoring evolving costs and impacts on affected communities 
  5. Early input on considerations to increase findability and transparency of research 

Submit responses to the Request for Information through April 24, 2023. 

Feature image courtesy of Pavan Trikutam via Unsplash.