NIH’s Cancer Moonshot Program to Require Immediate Open Access to Funded Research

The Cancer Moonshot program at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), a program launched in 2016 and spearheaded by then Vice President Joe Biden, has drafted rules requiring moonshot grantees to make their research “immediately and broadly available to the public.”

This is a substantial change from the current policy of the NCI’s parent organization, the National Institutes of Health, which requires that final papers be published through the agency’s PubMedCentral website within one year of publication.

According to an article published in Science, NCI began developing its open-access policy this summer, after learning that papers funded by the moonshot program had been published in Cell, a paywalled journal. Although agency officials later discovered that the article in question was not actually funded by the moonshot program, the NCI considered altering its guidelines to allow for preprints or self-publishing, but later adopted a strict open-access policy.

The new guidelines permit NCI-funded authors to publish in either a completely open-access journal, or a hybrid journal that publishes both free and paywalled papers. Authors may also include in their grant budgets the fees that open-access journals charge for peer review and other costs, which typically range from $2,000 to $3,000 per paper.

The agency stated, however, that it does not want to restrict researchers from publishing in highly selective, non–open-access journals such as Nature, Science, and Cell, so it is exploring options with these publishers.

This initiative is a pilot program and the NCI will decide whether to expand the open-access requirement to other programs depending on the results of the Moonshot program.

Source: Science, August 14, 2019.