As of December 3 2008, all peer-reviewed research articles resulting from new Autism Speaks funding will be deposited in PubMed Central (www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov), the National Library of Medicine's popular online science archive, where it will be freely available to all within a year of its publication. With this step, Autism Speaks becomes the first US-based non-profit advocacy organization to implement a public access policy.
Traditional publishing modes only allow access to published articles by scientists at major research institutions that can afford expensive journal subscriptions. This limitation slows the advancement of scientific progress and hinders its broad application. But today the internet makes it practical to openly share research findings with all potential users around the globe – families, researchers, clinicians, and students alike. Recognizing this opportunity, the NIH recently implemented a public access requirement ensuring its own funded research is available in PubMed Central. Now Autism Speaks' policy (view here) will open the door for autism research, and donors who paid to sponsor the research do not have to pay again to get the published results of that research.
This step provides the wider autism community with an invaluable source of high quality information and encourages other organizations to follow. Depositing articles in PubMed Central also integrates them with other research and data, making it easier for scientists worldwide to pursue autism research and make discoveries. It is our hope that by removing such barriers, progress in helping all those touched by autism will proceed as fast as possible.