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AAAS Does Not Endorse the Research Works Act

The nonprofit American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science, today reaffirmed its support for the current public access policy of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Contrary to recent news reports, AAAS does not endorse the Research Works Act, which would prevent the NIH from requiring its grantees to make biomedical research findings freely available via the National Library of Medicine’s Web site.

“We believe the current NIH public access policy provides an important mechanism for ensuring that the public has access to biomedical research findings,” said AAAS Chief Executive Officer Alan I. Leshner, executive publisher of Science. “At the same time, the NIH policy provides appropriate support for the intellectual property rights of publishers who have invested much in science communication.”

Leshner added, “AAAS, like many organizations, is a member of the Association of American Publishers, but we do not endorse all of their policies or statements, and we wish to make that very clear in this case. AAAS is not in favor of the proposed Research Works Act.”

In addition to publishing Science, AAAS conducts an array of programs in the fields of science diplomacy, science in the service of human rights, science education, science policy and ethics, and public engagement with science and technology. With a mission to advance science and serve society, the association also seeks to disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed scientific information as broadly and equitably as possible. Toward that end, all NIH-related research is freely available to the public six months after publication in Science. All of the journal’s research content is accessible 12 months after publication.

Any Science articles of resounding importance to public health are always freely posted online without restrictions, Leshner noted. Moreover, the journal participates in an array of initiatives intended to freely deliver scientific information to researchers in the world’s poorest countries.

Ginger Pinholster

18 January 2012