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Access to Taxpayer-Funded Medical Research

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) takes public comment until tomorrow on a proposal to make the findings of NIH-funded research available online for free. The proposal appears to be supported by almost everyone except publishers of medical journals. The journals have had exclusive ability to publish the research findings and claim that they will lose revenues under the new proposal. However, the NIH proposal gives the journals six months of exclusivity before making the taxpayer-funded research available to the public. This is not only reasonable, but one might argue deferential to the journals. One of the largest journals, New England Journal of Medicine, already posts its articles for free after six months.

Earlier this year, Congress encouraged NIH to move forward with putting research online, saying: �The Committee is very concerned that there is insufficient public access to reports and data resulting from NIH-funded research. This situation, which has been exacerbated by the dramatic rise in scientific journal subscription prices, is contrary to the best interests of the U.S. taxpayers who paid for this research.� The Alliance for Taxpayer Access is also encouraging the NIH proposal.

 

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