Monday, January 7, 2013

NIH nips at publisher's business models

In what many consider an inevitable move, the NIH has announced that it will withhold funds from researchers who receive NIH funds and who don't make their papers freely available, reports Nature.  It's a bold move toward Open Access.

Yes, it's a good move for the public but is it a bad one for publishers that own flagship journals like Nature (Holtzbrink), Science, (The AAAS, a not-for-profit), and Cell (Reed Elsevier, a public company)?  I don't think so.  The NIH states that articles must be made freely available no later than twelve months after publication, which may seem quick but it's an eternity as far as new science is concerned.  There's still huge value for a university or research institute in immediate access to new papers, so high impact publishers will still be able to place articles behind paywalls, charge their fees, and still allow researchers to comply with the NIH within the twelve month window.  Publishers can still adapt their policies to the NIH's changes without alienating academic authors.