NIH Revises Plan for Quick, Free Access to Study Results, from the WaPo

The original proposal called for NIH-funded research to be made publicly available on the web within six months of journal publication. The revised plan ups this to a year.

Well at least the proposal wasn’t canned entirely. But I’m amazed that the Director can say with a straight face that the NIH didn’t buckle under industry pressure.

Several business coalitions… had lobbied strenuously against the initial proposal, which they said would jeopardize many journals’ existence by undercutting their paid subscriber base.

How? Riddle me this, Batman: When do most journal subscribers buy copies of a journal? When it’s released, that’s when. Why? Because they’re subscribers & they get it delivered to them immediately. Tell me, how many requests for reprints or proofs do journals get, after the publication date? Not many, I’ll wager. Maybe releasing articles for free cuts into profits, but I can’t imagine that it’s a big loss.

Actually that would be an interesting thing to know: what percentage of a publisher’s profits come from what stage in a publication’s lifecycle? Initial printing, reprints, 2nd editions, etc. Of course I’m sure most publishers wouldn’t want to share that data.

…few scientists or libraries would cancel their subscriptions just because NIH-funded content was available free elsewhere, because such research represents only a fraction of the content of most journals.