Peter Suber reports that the NIH open access mandate may be deleted or weakened by last-minute amendments to the FY 2008 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations bill (see his posting reproduced in full below).
You can easily contact your senators using the ALA Action Alert Web form with my cut-and-paste version of the below ATA text or you can use the same form to write your own text.
Urgent action need to support the NIH bill
The provision to mandate OA at the NIH is in trouble. Late Friday, just before the filing deadline, a Senator acting on behalf of the publishing lobby filed two harmful amendments, one to delete the provision and one to weaken it significantly. We thought we'd done everything and only had to wait for the Senate vote. But now we have to mobilize once more, and fast, to squash these amendments. Here an announcement from the Alliance for Taxpayer Access:
URGENT CALL TO ACTION: Tell your Senator to OPPOSE amendments that strike or change the NIH public access provision in the FY08 Labor/HHS appropriations bill
The Senate is currently considering the FY08 Labor-HHS Bill, which includes a provision (already approved by the House of Representatives and the full Senate Appropriations Committee), that directs the NIH to change its Public Access Policy so that participation is required (rather than requested) for researchers, and ensures free, timely public access to articles resulting from NIH-funded research. On Friday, Senator Inhofe (R-OK), filed two amendments (#3416 and #3417), which call for the language to either be stricken from the bill, or modified in a way that would gravely limit the policy’s effectiveness.
Amendment #3416 would eliminate the provision altogether. Amendment #3417 is likely to be presented to your Senator as a compromise that “balances” the needs of the public and of publishers. In reality, the current language in the NIH public access provision accomplishes that goal. Passage of either amendment would seriously undermine access to this important public resource, and damage the community’s ability to advance scientific research and discovery.
Please contact your Senators TODAY and urge them to vote “NO” on amendments #3416 and #3417. (Contact must be made before close of business on Monday, October 22). A sample email is provided for your use below. Feel free to personalize it, explaining why public access is important to you and your institution. Contact information and a tool to email your Senator are online [here]. No time to write? Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 to be patched through to your Senate office.
If you have written in support before, or when you do so today, please inform the Alliance for Taxpayer Access. Contact Jennifer McLennan through firstname.lastname@example.org or by fax at (202) 872-0884.
Thanks for your continued efforts to support public access at the National Institutes of Health.
On behalf of [your organization], I strongly urge you to OPPOSE proposed Amendments #3416 and #3417 to the FY 2008 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations bill (S.1710). These amendments would seriously impede public access to taxpayer-funded biomedical research, stifling critical advancements in lifesaving research and scientific discovery. The current bill language was carefully crafted to balance the needs of ALL stakeholders, and to ensure that the American public is able to fully realize our collective investment in science.
To ensure public access to medical research findings, language was included in the in the FY 2008 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Bill directing the NIH to make a much-needed improvement to its Public Access Policy — requiring that NIH-funded researchers deposit their manuscripts in the National Library of Medicine’s online database to be made publicly available within one year of publication in a peer-reviewed journal. This change is supported by NIH Director Elias Zerhouni, and a broad coalition of educational institutions, scientific researchers, healthcare practitioners, publishers, patient groups, libraries, and student groups — representing millions of taxpayers seeking to advance medical research.
Amendment #3416 would eliminate this important provision, leaving only a severely weakened, voluntary NIH policy in place. Under the voluntary policy (in place for more than two years) less than 5% of individual researchers have participated — rendering the policy ineffective. The language in Amendment #3417 would place even further restrictions on the policy, ensuring that taxpayers – including doctors and scientists – are unable to take full advantage of this important public resource.
Supporting the current language in the FY08 LHHS Appropriations Bill is the best way to ensure that taxpayers’ investment in NIH-funded research is used as effectively as possible. Taxpayer-funded NIH research belongs to the American public. They have paid for it, and it is for their benefit.
I urge you to join the millions of scientists, researchers, libraries, universities, and patient and consumer advocacy groups in supporting the current language in the FY08 LHHS Appropriations bill and require NIH grantees to deposit in PubMed Central final peer-reviewed manuscripts no later than 12 months following publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Vote NO on Amendments #3416 and #3417.
Comment. The ATA is not exaggerating. This is urgent. If you're a US citizen, please contact your Senators and spread the word. Note the short deadline. Your Senators must hear from you before the end of business on Monday, October 22: two days from now.