Contact the Senate about the NIH Public Access Policy

Use the ALA Action Alert to send a message to your Senator about the NIH Public Access Policy.

Under "Compose Message" in the form, I suggest that you shorten the Subject to "Support the NIH Public Access Policy." As an "Issue Area" you might use "Budget" or "Health." Be sure to fill in your salutation and phone number; they are required to send an e-mail even though the form does not show them as required fields.

Cut and paste the below talking points text into the "Editable text to" section of the form as the message or write your own. If you use the below text, I'd suggest that you preface it with a short personalized message, such as: "I've been a resident of your district for [?] years, and, as a [?], I'm very concerned about the following issue." This will increase the impact of your message with Congressional staff.

The Senate Appropriations Committee passed the
FY 2008 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill
with language directing the National Institutes
of Health (NIH) to change its Public Access Policy
so that it requires NIH-funded researchers to
deposit copies of agency-funded research articles
into the National Library of Medicine's online archive.

This change is necessary for the policy to
achieve its goals: to expand use of NIH research
findings, enhance management of NIH's substantial
research portfolio, and provide for a sustainable
archive of research results funded with U.S. tax

Widespread dissemination of research results is
an essential, inseparable component of our
nation's investment in science and a right of the
American taxpayer. It is only through use that we
obtain value from this investment, so the open
sharing of medical advances and scientific
findings will increase and accelerate the return
of benefits to taxpayers.

Public access to research will drive taxpayer
benefits such as accelerated scientific
advancement, enhanced national competitiveness,
and improved public health.

Unfortunately, access to scientific and medical
publications has lagged behind the wide reach of
the Internet into U.S. homes and institutions.
Fees for access to federally supported research
unnecessarily limit U.S. taxpayer access to
findings that result from the outlay of public

Mandatory NIH public access removes imposing
barriers, making the results of taxpayer-funded
research readily available online at no extra
charge to every scientist as well as to small
businesses, patients, physicians and clinicians,
students and educators, and the American public
without disrupting the important peer-review

Over the more than two years since its
implementation, the NIH's current voluntary
policy has failed to achieve any of the agency's
stated goals, attaining a deposit rate of less
than 5% by individual researchers. A mandate is
required to ensure deposit in NIH's online
archive of articles describing findings of all
research funded by the agency.

Mandatory public access to taxpayer-funded
research at the NIH has the full support of the
NIH Director, as well as broad bipartisan support
in Congress.

Arguments that mandatory public access would violate U.S.
treaty obligations have no merit (see:

I urge you to approve without change the
language included in the Senate Appropriations
Committee's FY 2008 Labor-HHS-Education
appropriations bill directing the NIH to
implement a mandatory policy ensuring free,
timely access to all research articles stemming
from NIH-funded research.