It is currently NIH policy -- policy fought bitterly and with some success by lobbyists for big scientific publishers -- that NIH funded research be deposited in the publicly accessible online repository, PubMed Central, within 12 months of publication or earlier. Few scientists do it, and I'd guess most don't even know they are supposed to do it. There is no enforcement and it isn't even mandatory. Compliance is estimated at 5%. 12 months is far too long. But it isn't the equivalent of "forever."
There are interesting posts floating around on the latest request for information (RTF) from the NIH regarding peer-reviewed grants. Here is some more info:
NIH and the Working Group welcome your comments on these CSR's current activities; however, we would particularly like your opinion, as a reviewer, applicant, or member of the public, on how to enhance the system employed by NIH to support biomedical and behavioral research, including the peer review process. The NIH is especially interested in creative, concrete suggestions to the following questions, for strengthening over the long term any and all aspects of our system for identifying the most meritorious and innovative research for support:
1- Challenges of NIH System of Research Support
Please describe any specific challenges presented by NIH's support of biomedical and behavioral research such as the current array of grant mechanisms, number of grants awarded per investigator, and the duration of grants.
2-Challenges of NIH Peer Review Process
Please describe any specific challenges presented by the current peer review process at NIH.
3-Solutions to Challenges
Please concisely describe specific approaches or concepts that would address any of the above challenges, even if it involves a radical change to the current approach.
4-Core Values of NIH Peer Review Process
Please describe the core values of NIH peer review that must be maintained or enhanced.
5-Peer Review Criteria and Scoring
Are the appropriate criteria (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-05-002.html) and scoring procedures (pdf) being used by NIH to evaluate applications during peer review? If not, are there changes in either that you would recommend?
Is the current peer review process for investigators at specific stages in their career appropriate? If not, what changes would you recommend?
I was tagged by Thomas Robey to basically answer the request. Here are a few responses. I think that I'll let this request fermet for a while before I give an answer or tag others. Since I am a Canadian who JUST received my green card, and been funded in the past by grants from the Quebec government and then from an American non-profit organization, my experience with the NIH and the grant review process is second hand. Having said all that, I am thinking of submitting a K99 grant.
Moving along ...
The latest Mendel's Garden is up at Eye on DNA.
Yes, it looks a bit too neat and tidy. For other clips click here.
Speaking of bloggers and interviews, the next two editions of Science Saturday at bloggingheads.tv will feature science bloggers. Next week one of the two Sean Carroll (I'm not sure which one) will be on the vlog, followed by the week after Sb's own PZ Myers .
RE: PubMed Central, I am very disappointed that this has not taken off. Its a fantastic, although not perfect, initiative and it takes virtually no time at all to put your papers in. Every paper I have published as first or correponding author is in and I have been very pleased to find that I have recieved several inquiries from researchers in developing nations on my work as well as from patients that are interested in my work and have attained access through that portal. I've been running from meeting to meeting lately and have plugged PubMed Central at the begining of every talk I have given. I have been very surprised to find that many have no idea what it is and are completely unaware that it is supposed to be required for NIH funded research. I find it hard to believe that this is due to lack of effort on the part of NIH...
Onto NIH RFI... I like DrugMonkey's suggestions and I'm going to think it over a bit and send in my thoughts. I have to say, though, that I think PhysioProf is also correct that the current NIH system is very good. We should not blame NIH as much as we do and concentrate on Congress. At another recent meeting we sat down with several CSRs that cover my area and while people were complaining about their troubles I got up and said we had to do a better job of getting our message across to Congress. I suppose I naively assumed that CSRs and other NIH staff passed our messages along but was surprised to find out that it is essentially illegal for NIH staff to lobby Congress. If we want to get something done we have to push ourselves (and it should be that way).
And one more thing (as I think you've said before) while we're doing all this thinking about NIH funding and budgets we should take a good hard look at waste in indirect costs. I know less about this than I should to make an informed comment (largely since I'm out of the loop here in Canada) but it seems to me that the system has some very serious flaws that hurt all of our budgets and reduce the fundable grants.
Yeah, my beef is not really with the peer-review process< but the way the money is allocated. There really should be financial support for career postdocs, higher salary guidelines for all postdocs, and measures to give postdocs some longterm security.
The RFI is pretty broad ranging across the NIH mission, this is not just about complaining about peer review. A critical component, in my view, is the "core values" one. This is because there are changes afoot, some fairly radical, at the NIH. So it behooves us to talk about the things we like as well as the things we dislike. anyway, thanks for playing...