The Influence of the National Institutes of Health : Public-Access Policy on the Publishing Habits of Principal Investigators :
“The mandatory NIH public-access policy, which became effective on April 7, 2008, requires the NIH-funded principal investigators (PIs) to self-archive to the National Library of Medicine subject repository PubMed Central a manuscript’s electronic version immediately upon publication, which will then be available to the public free of cost the latest after a twelve-month embargo period. The Public Library of Science (PLoS), a non-profit open-access publisher in health sciences, publishes seven journals in the health sciences field (PLoS ONE, PLoS Biology, PLoS Medicine, PLoS Computational Biology, PLoS Genetics, PLoS Pathogenes and PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases) and submits to PubMed Central all the published articles, irrespective of the funder of the research results. The PIs who had published in one of the PLoS journals were chosen based on the journals’ established high impact factor immediately after their creation. The PIs’ motivation to publish in one of the seven PLoS journals was unknown. Whether the NIH public-access policy has affected the PIs’ publishing decisions was also unknown.
A random sample of NIH-funded PIs, who had published in one of the PLoS journals between the years 2005- 2009, was selected from the RePORTER database. During the period
March-May 2011, forty-two PIs were interviewed using SkypeTM software, and a semi-structured open-ended interview protocol was followed. The participants were divided into two groups; the pre-mandate PIs, who had published in one of the seven PLoS journals during the period 2005-2007 and the post-mandate, who had published in the PLoS journals the during period 2008-2009. The publishing habits of these two groups were compared, in order to reach an understanding about their publishing decisions.
Based on the findings, the NIH-funded PIs choose the PLoS journals due to their high impact factor, fast publication speed, fair peer-review system and the articles’ open-access availability. Although the PIs agree with the premise that publicly funded research must be distributed for-free to everyone who has funded it, the steps required to comply with the policy were perceived to be time consuming. Since conformity with the policy is essential, the participants’ goal is to ensure that the manuscripts will appear to PubMed Central, which either can be self-archived by the PIs, by an administrative assistant or by the journal.
The NIH public-access policy did not cause either an increase in the PIs’ open-access awareness or a change in their publishing habits. The open-access advocates were supporters of the immediate free access to scientific information before the policy and provided their manuscripts free-of-cost before the policy’s mandate. The non-open-access advocates choose their publications based on quality criteria such as the journal’s prestige, impact factor, speed of publication and the attracted audience, while the article’s open-access availability is considered to be a plus. Furthermore, since a large number of journals comply with the NIH-policy, the participants did not have to change their publishing habits.”
URL : http://hdl.handle.net/10760/17208