Research Bought, Then Paid For
By MICHAEL B. EISEN
Published: January 10, 2012
THROUGH the National Institutes of Health, American taxpayers have long supported research directed at understanding and treating human disease. Since 2009, the results of that research have been available free of charge on the National Library of Medicine’s Web site, allowing the public (patients and physicians, students and teachers) to read about the discoveries their tax dollars paid for.
But a bill introduced in the House of Representatives last month threatens to cripple this site. The Research Works Act would forbid the N.I.H. to require, as it now does, that its grantees provide copies of the papers they publish in peer-reviewed journals to the library. If the bill passes, to read the results of federally funded research, most Americans would have to buy access to individual articles at a cost of $15 or $30 apiece. In other words, taxpayers who already paid for the research would have to pay again to read the results.