Publishers accommodate NIH-funded authors

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March 14, 2011

By Peter Suber
For years, I've been saying (in my blog, the newsletter, public talks) that "all" or "virtually all" publishers accommodate NIH-funded authors. But it was hard to point to evidence. This problem is now solved.

The Open Access Directory (OAD) has a list of publisher policies on NIH-funded authors.

This list has been hand-curated by medical school librarians since mid-2008. I asked them whether they have ever encountered a publisher that has refused to publish NIH-funded authors. The answer is no. Together we drafted a statement now posted to the list itself. Here's how it reads:

OAD launched this list in August 2008. To the best of our knowledge, no publishers anywhere refuse to publish NIH-funded authors on the grounds of the NIH public-access policy. Every publisher we've examined to date offers some way to accommodate NIH-funded authors, even if the method of accommodation is not expressly stated in the copyright transfer agreement. In the rare cases when the the copyright transfer does not expressly accommodate NIH-funded authors, publishers who learn that authors must comply with the NIH policy always offer options to make that compliance possible. Moreover, these options do not require authors to pay publication fees, or other fees, so long as they observe the 12 month embargo period. If we're wrong and have overlooked a publisher refusing to publish NIH-funded authors, or requiring a fee to comply with the NIH policy, please let us know.

(We may tweak the language in small ways in the coming days.)

This statement is important for three reasons. First, it summarizes a very large number of publisher policies that most people would not want to wade through. Second, it's citable. It's hard to prove a negative ("no publishers refuse to accommodate NIH-funded authors"), but this is an authoritative summary of the evidence to date, along with an open challenge to correct it. I can now say with confidence, and a citable source, that no publishers, or no surveyed publishers, refuse to accommodate NIH-funded authors. Third, it means that the NIH policy does not limit author freedom to submit work to the journals of their choice, even though the policy offers no waiver option.

Peter Suber
bit.ly/suber

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