24:3 (2009:09) 24th Conference: Tactics Session: NIH Mandate One Year On

September 14, 2009 at 2:13 pm | Posted in Conference Reports, Tactics Sessions | Leave a comment

NIH Mandate One Year On: How Are Libraries Responding?

Joseph Thomas, Head, Collection Development, East Carolina University
Reported by Philip Wallas

The NIH Public Access Policy became permanent in March, 2009.  Joseph Thomas provided background information about the policy.  The NIH Public Access Policy requires that final peer-reviewed articles based on research funded by NIH be submitted to PubMed no later than twelve months after publication.  Thomas developed and administered a survey to learn how libraries engage their communities on issues of scholarly communication; specifically, how they have responded to the NIH mandate and what if any impact the NIH policy has had on the growth of institutional repositories.  In addition, he researched scholarly communication activities and the NIH policy on websites for 100 ARL institutions and 52 academic institutions in North Carolina.

There were 54 respondents to the survey, with a strong majority from research intensive institutions.  Outreach efforts for scholarly communications issues in general and for the NIH policy in particular were similar:

  • outreach to individual faculty
  • outreach to campus groups
  • outreach to administration
  • information on web pages
  • campus-wide events, library sponsored or jointly sponsored
  • posted materials
  • news articles
  • committees

For each method, the survey sought feedback on the effectiveness of the outreach.  No single method was judged highly effective by a significant majority of respondents.  Most institutions used a combination of various outreach activities.

The following scholarly communications outreach topics were most often cited:

  • copyright management
  • open access to view research
  • complying with NIH mandate
  • serials price inflation
  • open access publishing opportunities
  • institutional repositories

Notably, discussion of legislative advocacy regarding scholarly communication issues was not a frequent topic for outreach.  Thomas posed the question of whether libraries should be more engaged in advocacy.

The survey found outreach specifically concerning the NIH mandate covered additional issues such as:

  • how to comply with the NIH mandate
  • alternative publishing models
  • author rights

24 survey respondents have an institutional repository or plan to launch an IR within a year.  Those with IRs reported growth in the last year, but did not associate it with the NIH mandate.

The review of websites found that most ARLs have web pages dealing with scholarly communication and with the NIH policy.  30 institutions have a “full house” — web material on scholarly communications and on the NIH policy, as well as having an institutional repository and a separate medical school library.

Thomas provided specific examples of outreach activities to principal investigators and other members of academic communities.  He and audience members noted the role of departmental secretaries who may be handling NIH policy compliance for their authors.

In conclusion, Thomas underlined the opportunity for libraries to work with offices of sponsored research and to support alternative publishing models such as open access.


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