Endocrine Society urges NIH to delay public access plan

November 12, 2004

Chevy Chase, MD, November 12, 2004 - The Endocrine Society today asked the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to delay implementation of its plan to enhance public access to scientific research. While The Endocrine Society supports the concept of open access, it cannot support the NIH's proposal, as it raises several concerns and questions that must be addressed before any new policy can be applied.

In a letter sent to NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., The Endocrine Society shared several concerns regarding the NIH plan.

"We not only support free access to literature," writes Endocrine Society President Anthony Means, Ph.D., "we have invested our financial resources in developing and implementing definitive Web technology to accomplish this."

The Society currently makes all accepted manuscripts from its four peer-reviewed journals immediately available, without charge, to the public through its Web site. All of the Society's final published content also becomes available, free-of-charge, after 12 months.

The Endocrine Society's letter notes that the NIH plan duplicates existing resources; uses an untested publishing model; and leaves several unanswered questions regarding costs and measurements. The Society also conveys disappointment that in developing its plan for public access, the NIH failed to consult with established members of the scholarly publishing community, many of whom have advocated for NIH funding increases in recent years.

"The Endocrine Society is gravely concerned about the effect this wholesale shift in policy will have on the publishing models of the scholarly publishing community," notes the letter.

While the NIH calls for publicly funded scientific research to be freely available after six months, it has not shared the methodology and data used to establish this timeframe. A majority of journal publishers have determined that a 12-month free access policy is more sustainable than a six-month policy. The Endocrine Society also points out the NIH's failure to provide information about how it will assess the effectiveness of its policy and monitor its impact on stakeholders.

"We urge the NIH not to implement this proposal until sufficient data are collected to gauge the impact--economic and otherwise--of such a policy," writer Dr. Means who offered to work with the NIH to revise their plan.

"We suggest there are other models that the NIH can use to promote open availability of scientific information and manage its research portfolio, and we would be happy to be part of a process to develop such models."

Founded in 1916, The Endocrine Society is the world's oldest, largest, and most active organization devoted to research on hormones, and the clinical practice of endocrinology. Today, The Endocrine Society's membership consists of over 11,000 scientists, physicians, educators, nurses and students in more than 80 countries. Together, these members represent all basic, applied, and clinical interests in endocrinology. The Endocrine Society is based in Chevy Chase, Maryland. To learn more about the Society, and the field of endocrinology, visit our web site at http://www.endo-society.org.
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To obtain a copy of The Endocrine Society's letter to the NIH or to arrange an interview with an Endocrine Society spokesperson, please contact Marisa Lavine at 301-941-0255 or mlavine@endo-society.org.

The Endocrine Society

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