The National Institutes of Health Last week released a notice that clarifies how investigators will cite and attribute preprint and interim research products in funding applications and grant reports. The new policy provides definitions of terms, guidelines for citation and attribution, and research data repository specifications.
While definitions for preprints and interim products have existed for some time, the notice outlines some points to consider when applying for funding at the NIH after May 25. Awardees will not be required to create interim products using their NIH award, and applicants will not be required to cite interim research products in their applications. Additionally, since preprints are not peer reviewed, they do not fall under NIH’s public access policy, which requires all NIH-funded investigators to submit their peer reviewed manuscripts to PubMed for public availability.
Like normal research citations, interim research products can be cited in bibliographies, biographical sketches, progress-report publication lists, and product sections by using a digital object identifier.
The agency urges grantees to follow normal procedures when attributing NIH support for the production of interim research products. The NIH expects that investigators make these publically available, acknowledge NIH funding according to normal NIH grant policy, state that the research was not peer-reviewed, and declare any competing interest.
All repositories for products resulting from NIH funding should make content easily accessible, interoperable and reusable. Repositories should have policies on plagiarism, competing interests and misconduct. They also should keep an active record of any changes made with a robust archiving strategy.
The issue of the inclusion of preprints and interim research products in grant proposals and reports created some debate among the scientific community with some against its inclusion under the assumption that adopting these products will propagate junk science that is normally, but not always, sifted out in the peer-review process. We highlighted here some of the dialogue occurring in this debate with the opinions of ASAPbio and the ASBMB’s public affairs advisory committee representing some of the alternate views between scientists that could be affected. Ben Corb, the director of public affairs at ASBMB, released a brief statement in January in support of any policies at the NIH that provide investigators increased opportunities to compete fairly for grant funding.