Friday, February 29, 2008

NIH Public Access Policy - University Compliance

The revised NIH Public Access Policy goes into effect on April 7, 2008, and universities, medical research institutions, and other grantees have a compliance issue on their hands. If, after the effective date, NIH-funded investigators continue to sign many journal publisher's copyright agreements for articles reporting NIH-funded research, these institutions will be non-compliant with the new policy and continued funding will be at risk.

To mitigate that risk, I've written a White Paper on behalf of SPARC, Science Commons, and the Association of Research Libraries explaining the nature of the new copyright-related risk that NIH grantees face and identifying six options they have for managing that risk.

The White Paper, Complying with the National Institutes of Health Public Access Policy: Copyright Considerations and Options, is now available for download at


Anonymous said...

Mike, this is an incredibly important and useful document. I liked, for example, your important observation that just because an article can go into PMC does not necessarily mean that it can go into one's own institutional repository. I also liked your discussion of actual ownership issues surrounding authorship, both for co-authors, joint authors, and employing institutions. Especially important is your discussion of authors outside of the grantee institution and their role in the process. There is a tremendous amount in here for us to learn and consider.

I was particularly struck by your emphasis on the role of the grantee organization in assuring compliance. The law, of course, says that the PI is responsible for ensuring that articles are submitted. But you are probably right that it is the grantee organization, rather than the PI, who has final responsibility for the submission (in spite of the language of the law and the lack of any discussion of this in NIH's "Terms and Conditions of NIH Awards" regulations). It is one thing to say that investigators must ensure that authors submit articles; it is quite another to say the the grantee institution must have systems in place to ensure that PIs are in compliance.

My impression is that most schools have been assuming that it is the primary responsibility of the PI to ensure compliance. Do you really think that the grantee institutions must take an active role as well and step in when the PIs fail to act?

Michael W. Carroll said...


Yes. The grantee is the one who makes a contractual promise to NIH that the articles will be submitted to NIH and that the Public Access License will be granted to NIH. If there's non-compliance, NIH's legal recourse is with the grantee, not the PI.

Of course, the PI also has a strong incentive to ensure compliance, and a grantee institution may choose to rely on that incentive to protect itself. But it is a risk that the grantee should take knowingly.