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Not-for-Profit Publishers Commit to Providing Free Access to Research 

On March 16, 2004 representatives from the nation’s leading not-for-profit medical/scientific societies and publishers announced their commitment to providing free access and wide dissemination of published research findings. The Washington DC Principles for Free Access to Science outlines the commitment of not-for-profit publishers to work in partnership with scholarly communities such as libraries to “ensure that these communities are sustained, science is advanced, research meets the highest standards and patient care is enhanced with accurate and timely information.”  The DC Principles provide what has been called the needed “middle ground” in the increasingly heated debate between those who advocate immediate unfettered online access to medical and scientific research findings and advocates of the current journal publishing system.  The document was drafted in response to recent claims that these publishers’ practices hinder the public’s ability to access published scientific research.

Panelists Speak Out In Support of Free Acces


Washington D.C. Principles For Free Access to Science - A Statement from Not-for-Profit Publishers

(For a PDF version of the Washington D.C. Principles for Free Access to Science including the Signatories and Background, please click here.)

(March 16, 2004) - Washington, DC – As scholarly, not-for-profit publishers, we reaffirm our commitment to innovative and independent publishing practices and to promoting the wide dissemination of information in our journals. Not-for-profit scientific, technical, and medical publishers are an integral part of the broader scholarly communities supporting scientists, researchers, and clinicians. We work in partnership with scholarly communities to ensure that these communities are sustained and extended, science is advanced, research meets the highest standards, and patient care is enhanced with accurate and timely information. 

We continue to support broad access to the scientific and medical literature through the following publishing principles and practices.

1.  As not-for-profit publishers, we see it as our mission to maintain and enhance the independence, rigor, trust, and visibility that have established scholarly journals as reliable filters of information emanating from clinical and laboratory research.

2. As not-for-profit publishers, we reinvest the revenue from our journals in the support of science worldwide, including scholarships, scientific meetings, grants, educational outreach, advocacy for research funding, the free dissemination of information for the public, and improvements in scientific publishing.

3.  As not-for-profit publishers, we have introduced and will continue to support the following forms of free access:

  • Selected important articles of interest are free online from the time of publication;

  • The full text of our journals is freely available to everyone worldwide either immediately or within months of publication, depending on each publisher’s business and publishing requirements;

  • The content of our journals is available free to scientists working in many low-income nations;

  • Articles are made available free online through reference linking between these journals;

  • Our content is available for indexing by major search engines so that readers worldwide can easily locate information.

4. We will continue to work to develop long-term preservation solutions for online journals to ensure the ongoing availability of the scientific literature.

5.  We will continue to work with authors, peer-reviewers, and editors for the development of robust online and electronic tools to improve efficiency of their important intellectual endeavors.

6.  We strongly support the principle that publication fees should not be borne solely by researchers and their funding institutions, because the ability to publish in scientific journals should be available equally to all scientists worldwide, no matter what their economic circumstances.

7.  As not-for-profit publishers, we believe that a free society allows for the co-existence of many publishing models, and we will continue to work closely with our publishing colleagues to set high standards for the scholarly publishing enterprise.


Support Society Publishers by Signing the Online Petition.

Communications with Dr. Zerhouni from August 2006 through April 2007 concerning the Society publishers proposed linking proposal and NIH Portfolio Plan

'Do Open Access Articles Have Greater Citation Impact?  A critical review of the literature'

Open access - clear benefits, hidden costs. An Editorial published in the April 2007 issue of Learned Publishing.

Press Release - Nonprofit Publishers Oppose Government Mandates for Scientific Publishing

Press Release - Senior Academic Officers Express Their Concern About S.2695, The “Federal Research Public Access Act Of 2006”

Not-For-Profit Publishers Submit Comments on Cornyn-Lieberman Legislation (PDF file)

DC Principles Coalition Response To Remarks Made By NIH Director Zerhouni On November 7, 2005 (PDF file)

Leading Scientific & Medical Organizations Offer The NIH Direct Links To Their Journals To Make It Easy For The Public To Access Research

Not-For-Profit Scientific Publishers’ Proposal for Improving Compliance and Achieving NIH Goals

Press Release: Stanford`s HighWire Press Releases Millionth Free Journal Article

Press Release: Scientific Societies Applaud New Milestone In Bringing Online Research To The Public

Coalition Members Submit Letter to Senate L-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee

Press Release: NIH Rule A Missed Opportunity

Coalition Members Comment on NIH Public Access Plan

Welcome New Supporters of the DC Principles

Spanish Association of Pediatric Primary Care

Journal of Pediatric Primary Care

The International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (IUBMB)
Biotechnology and Applied Biochemistry
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education


DC Principles in the News

Free Access For All! Can We Afford It? Physiology 21(6): 372, December 2006

Access to the Scientific Literature — A Difficult Balance. New England Journal of Medicine 354(15): 1552, April 13, 2006

More DC Principles in the News . . . .