CommComm posted on September 9, 2011 19:13

          On Sept. 14th our very own Claire Twose, Public Health and Basic Science Informationist, is giving a lecture in the School of Public Health (details on Welchweb) titled "NIH Public Access Policy: Everything you need to know". I wanted to spend a minute or two on this because this policy relates to everyone's health in a more personal way than we might realize. The access policy ensures that the public can view published results of NIH funded research in PubMed Central. 

          Frequently, we receive calls from patrons outside the Hopkins community, and they ask very specific questions about a particular disease, or condition and perhaps even a medication. When we ask if they've consulted their own physician, or even their local library they seem almost baffled. They called Johns Hopkins and they anticipate we'll solve whatever health conundrum they're experiencing. While this is being pro-active, there are other avenues that might bring more direct and rewarding results. And this is where the mental legwork comes in.

          There are many people who get online and start their own research. I'm sure you know people who subscribe to this approach. There is a wealth of available know-how out there for the taking. We recommend you consult your physician face-to-face, or e-mail, or whatever arrangement you can manage. If it involved someone in my family, I'd want to speak to someone directly, someone who has a degree of authority that I trusted. And I'd want to do this in conjunction with whatever information I could bring to the table, or whatever my doctor could bring. Calling an often-times busy medical library might not be my first choice. The "unseen variables" on the other end of the phone might dictate the amount of information I could get. Moral of the story: in this day and age, we all have to be our own advocates. We want to know what's out there. We want to discover what are the possibilities available.         

          Claire's lecture will entail the scholarly approach to NIH compliance. The how/what/& why's of navigating NIH policy. This is the behind-the-scenes insight into paper submittal and copyright agreements. But out in front of all this protocol sits you and I, the audience. We just want to know what's been written or published about the condition Aunt Edna is currently going through. We just want to know how can we help her get through it. A lecture. A policy. Doesn't it all boil down to things we can touch and share. When we look in the mirror, we all want to say we did the best we could do. That we brought something to the equation. In the end, that lecture and that policy might just hit home someday.


Alonzo LaMont

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