NIH Steps Up Enforcement of Public Access Policy

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is tightening enforcement of its policy requiring that investigators deposit copies of their papers in a public archive. Starting as soon as next spring, researchers who haven't complied will not receive the next installment of their grant.

NIH's public access policy, which aims to make the results of agency-funded research freely available, went into effect in 2008. NIH-funded researchers must submit copies of accepted manuscripts to the PubMed Central archive. The articles are then posted as soon as possible, although some journals impose a delay of up to 12 months.

NIH extramural research chief Sally Rockey said that until now, NIH has relied on "outreach" to enforce the policy. "We've helped you understand your obligations and provided reminders when we found papers that were out of compliance," she told grantees on her Rock Talk blog. But NIH said that only 75% of eligible papers are being deposited. "Thus, as of spring 2013 at the earliest, we will begin to hold processing of non-competing continuation awards if publications arising from grant awards are not in compliance with the public access policy," Rockey wrote.

NIH formally announced the policy today in this notice.