AAAS has responded to the National Institutes of Health’s request for input on the “NIH Plan to Enhance Public Access to the Results of NIH-Supported Research” as released in February 2023. AAAS’s response applauds the NIH for its emphasis on equity in its initial plans for public access policy development, but also urges the NIH to strengthen its policy in this regard further still – by focusing on creating an environment that balances reader access to new work with researchers’ ability to publish.
Sixteen scientific societies and associations signed a letter to the NIH emphasizing their agreement. The letter notes that these organizations and others are experimenting with various sustainability models for public access, including diamond, green and Subscribe to Open.
“As representatives of the scientific community,” the letter states, “we believe we are at a crucial moment in the timeline of public access policy development… We must strive to create a system wherein scientists are not required to pay additional fees to publish and where grants are not required to bear the brunt of publishing costs. Otherwise, we risk creating heavy cost burdens not only for researchers and their institutions, but also for funders of research, including taxpayers.”
The AAAS response to the NIH Request for Information recommends that NIH explicitly define and recognize the “author accepted manuscript” as the version that should be submitted to the NIH Manuscript Submission system, to create public access. This would directly address growing challenges that alternative public access models – for which authors pay to make their work open – create for early-career scientists, scientists at smaller schools and scientists in underfunded disciplines, among others. It would help to ensure a diverse universe of scientists can publish important work, regardless of their economic circumstances.