First fruits of the NIH public-access policySince the NIH policy took effect on May 2, grantees have submitted 340 papers to PubMed Central (PMC) for public access. Of those, 11 are now processed, online, and ready to read.
SPARC Open Access Newsletter, issue #88
August 2, 2005
by Peter Suber
Each is available in HTML and PDF editions. Here are the links to HTML editions:
What follows is a little tour of these articles, highlighting what PMC has added in its processing.
* The first thing to notice is that PMC has added many useful links to the HTML editions, but not to the PDF editions, which are intended for printing. For navigation, reference linking, and other purposes, researchers should use the HTML editions. You can reach the PDFs either from the PMC search box or from the sidebar of the HTML editions.
* Each article displays a full, standard citation to the published edition at the top of the front page. In the HTML edition, the citation includes the publisher's DOI and a link to the publisher's edition. Both editions clearly label the files as author manuscripts.
* Each article has a PMC identifier or PMCID, though these are only visible from the PMC search page, not the article pages.
* The HTML edition links to the email address of the corresponding author.
* The HTML edition links from note calls in the text to endnotes, and from endnotes to PubMed entries and full-text. If there is a free online edition of the cited article, then the reference link says "Free Full Text". Otherwise it just says "Full Text". If there is a free edition at both the publisher's web site and PMC, then the "Free Full Text" link points to the PMC copy.
* The HTML edition has a TOC with links to every section of the paper. The TOC is repeated in the left sidebar at every section break. This not only aids navigation for readers, but gives each section a unique URL for external links.
* Both editions put the figures and tables at the bottom of the file. The HTML edition links to that section from the TOC. It also links from individual figure calls in the text to the individual figures themselves.
* In each HTML edition, there is a drop-down box of links near the top of the sidebar. It contains article-specific links to related material in NIH databases, such as similar articles in PubMed, PubMed Central, or PubMed LinkOut.
According to the PMC page on Author Manuscripts, "If the journal participates in NCBI's LinkOut service (as is frequently the case) the reference to the published article also provides a direct link to the full text of the article at the journal site."
In the drop-down box in the third article above, by Norio Takamoto et al., there are links to related material in GenSat, Gene, HomoloGene, Nucleotide, Protein, Taxonomy, and Taxonomy Tree. In the fifth, by Mirko Schmidt et al., there are links to all of these as well as to PubChem Compound and PubChem Substance. In the ninth, by Kerry Grens et al., there are links to GenBank Accession numbers --not from the pull-down box but directly from references in the text. These forms of integration with other public-access material available at or through NIH are a major benefit of the program.
* Finally, the HTML edition links to the PMC copyright page and PMC disclaimer. On the whole, these pages are both generic (not journal- or article-specific). But the bottom of the PMC copyright page lists links to publisher-specific copyright policies added at the request of publishers. The PMC disclaimer page will soon offer publishers the same option.
* Both the HTML and PDF editions show the date of deposit in PMC.
* The first of the 11 articles above was written by intramural NIH scientists, the rest by extramural scientists with NIH funding. This is important merely as proof that the NIH policy applies to and accommodates researchers of both kinds.
* The 11 articles were published in a mix of profit and non-profit journals: Epilepsia (Blackwell), Journal of Applied Physiology (American Physiological Society), Development (Company of Biologists) (two articles), Chemistry & Biology (Elsevier), Journal of Biological Chemistry (American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) (two articles), Trends in Immunology (Elsevier), Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc.), Brain, Behavior and Evolution (Karger), and Hormones and Behavior (Elsevier).
Because the NIH request applies to past NIH grants as well as future ones, we cannot assume that these 11 articles were all published recently. In fact, 9 of the 11 were published in 2005 (from January to June) and two were published in 2004 (one in March, one in November). Moreover, these dates only refer to the labels on the journal issues in which they appeared, not the true dates of publication. Without knowing the true dates of publication, we can't measure the delays between publication and public access. But even if we knew the true delays, we couldn't assume anything about the embargoes, if any, requested or demanded by these journals.
* Some PMC articles that are *not* author manuscripts under the public-access policy contain links to (1) commentaries and (2) lists of other PMC articles that cite them. Here's an example with both kinds of link,
Author manuscripts under the public-access policy will eventually get both kinds of links.
* For a list of all the author manuscripts currently in PMC, either click the "Author Manuscripts" link near the top of any HTML edition or run the "author manuscript" filter in the PMC search box. Or just bookmark this URL:
The results page gives you a tally. If you run the search periodically, you can watch the tally climb over time. This will not give you the "denominator" --or the number of articles eligible for deposit that are either not yet deposited or not yet processed. But it will show you the growing volume of this body of publicly-funded, free online literature.
* For some background on the compliance rate of NIH grantees, here are some highlights of the data distributed by the NIH at the July 11 meeting of the NIH Public Access Working Group of the NLM Board of Regents.
(1) How long were the requested embargoes? Of the articles in the pipeline as of July 11, most (68.3%) authors requested immediate public access. 7.9% requested six month embargoes, and 14.3% requested 12 month embargoes.
(2) How long did it take for grantees to complete the submission process? The largest plurality (48%) completed it in just three minutes. The second largest plurality (19%) completed it in 10 minutes. A total of 84% completed it in 10 minutes or less. Only 8% took longer than 20 minutes.
(3) How long are grantees waiting after publication before submitting their work to PMC? 28% submit to PMC in less than six months, 11% wait from 7 to 12 months, and 21% wait more than a year. (40% of NIH grants have not yet resulted in publication.)
(4) How many submissions should PMC expect if there were 100% compliance? On average over the past two years (May 2003 - March 2005) NIH grants have resulted in 5,500 publications per month or 250 per workday. The current compliance rate (340 submissions in two months) is just 3% of that.
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