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Updated 10:00 AM October 25, 2004




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U-M officials pleased with NIH public access proposal

A proposed National Institutes of Health (NIH) plan would enhance public access to NIH-funded research by establishing a searchable database and making results available to the public six months after publication.

While earlier efforts to make information public immediately troubled many academics, the new plan pleases many people at U-M.

"I think it enables a broader audience to access material," says Marvin Parnes, associate vice president for research and executive director of research administration. "It seems like a functional and practical approach."

One of the main concerns about making the information public has been the potential effect on scholarly journals. Some publishers and researchers had worried that releasing papers immediately would hurt publications.

But Parnes says he has heard little about the proposal from researchers throughout campus. He says the "long-term impact is yet to be understood," but for now, many at U-M think the proposal strikes an appropriate balance between public access and protection of journals' interests, and they don't seem troubled by the desire to make the information public after six months.

Indeed, some are pleased by the NIH proposal, which currently is in the middle of a public comment period before it becomes official policy.

"The NIH proposal is an important step forward for scholarly communication because it facilitates open access and communication about current and state-of-the-art research," says University Librarian William Gosling. "It empowers taxpayers and citizens to reap the benefit of federally funded research in a new and open manner."

The Association of American Universities (AAU)—the main association for research universities—supports the public access proposal. "Making research results freely available to the public six months after those results are published should not only benefit the public through expanded access to information but should benefit scientists and advance science through wider dissemination of new knowledge," says an AAU statement.

To read the proposal, go to

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