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NIH Access Policy Information

About the Policy

NIH-funded investigators must now submit final, peer-reviewed manuscripts to PubMed Central when the manuscript is accepted for publication.

The NIH Public Access Policy implements Division G, Title II, Section 218 of PL 110-161 (Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008) which states:

SEC. 218. The Director of the National Institutes of Health shall require that all investigators funded by the NIH submit or have submitted for them to the National Library of Medicine's PubMed Central an electronic version of their final, peer-reviewed manuscripts upon acceptance for publication, to be made publicly available no later than 12 months after the official date of publication: Provided, That the NIH shall implement the public access policy in a manner consistent with copyright law.

The policy is available at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-08-033.html

Policy Impact

The intent of the NIH Public Access Policy is to ensure that the public has access to the published results of NIH-funded research.

The Public Access Policy requires scientists to submit final peer-reviewed journal manuscripts that arise from NIH funds to the digital archive PubMed Central (http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/). PubMed Central (PMC) is the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) free digital archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature.

The Policy applies to any manuscript that:

  • Is peer-reviewed;
  • And, is accepted for publication in a journal on or after April 7, 2008;
  • And, arises from:
    • Any direct funding 1 from an NIH grant or cooperative agreement active in Fiscal Year 2008, or;
    • Any direct funding from an NIH contract signed on or after April 7, 2008, or;
    • Any direct funding from the NIH Intramural Program, or;
    • An NIH employee.
      Authors may submit final peer-reviewed manuscripts accepted before April 7, 2008 that arise from NIH funds, if they have appropriate copyright permission.

1 "Directly" funded means costs that can be specifically identified with a particular project or activity. See NIH Grants Policy Statement, Rev. 12/2003.

In addition, beginning May 25, 2008, anyone submitting an application, proposal or progress report to the NIH must include the PMC or NIH Manuscript Submission reference number when citing applicable articles that arise from their NIH funded research.

Who is Responsible for Compliance?

Institutions and Principal Investigators (PI) must comply with the policy. The PI of the grant is responsible regardless of whether or not they authored or co-authored a publication that falls under the policy.

How to Comply

If a publication meets the above requirements, it must be submitted to PubMed Central. A PubMed Central reference number will be created during this process. This number must be used in the future when citing the publication.

Steps in the process are below.

If the journal is on the NIH Journal List, no action is required by the investigator.
If the journal is not on the NIH Journal List, NIH funded investigators should follow these steps:

  1. Address copyright and retain the right to comply
  2. Submit to PubMed Central
  3. Approve the submission

Step 1: Address copyright and retain the right to comply

When submitting to a journal not on the NIH Journal List, authors must retain the right to comply with the NIH policy in order to be compliant with copyright law.

NIH recommends that "authors should avoid signing any agreements with publishers that do not allow the author to comply with the NIH Public Access Policy."

Check the publisher website for the following documents to determine the right to comply.

  • the publisher copyright agreement form.
  • Review the "Instructions for Authors" or "NIH Public Access Policy Information" sections

Alternately contact the publisher or editor regarding policies for NIH-funded authors.

See the NIH FAQ for details.


Step 2: Submit to PMC

There are three submission options:

  1. Submission of the final published article by the journal publisher. For details, see the Publishers that Will Deposit a Specific Final Published Article in PubMed Central on Request page maintained at the NIH Public Access Website.

Additional Resources:

NIHMS Tutorials on Submission to PubMed Central

Skill Kit: NIH Manuscript Submission System

  1. Submission of the final peer-reviewed manuscript by the author. For details, see Method C on the Submissions Methods page maintained at the NIH Public Access Website.

  2. A third party can submit on the author's behalf. Third party submissions can be processed via a free MyNCBI account available from PubMed.

Additional Resources:

NIHMS Tutorials on Third Party Submitters

Third Party Submitter Checklist (from Washington University in St. Louis)

Step 3: Approve the submission

The submission must be approved by responding to emails from the NIH Manuscript Submission System (NIHMS). Approval involves verification and a final review before PMC posting. Note: If there is not an eRA Commons account for the PI, PIs will be prompted by NIHMS to create an account.


Publisher Submits:

The PI will receive two emails from NIHMS:

  1. "Approve PDF Receipt." The PI must review and verify the PDF and enter the grant information.
  1. "Approve Web Version." The PI must review the web version before posting to PMC.


Author Self-Submits:

The PI will receive one email from NIHMS:

  1. "Approve Web Version." The PI must review the web version before posting to PMC.
Cite the PubMed Central Reference Number

NIH applications, proposals and progress reports must include the PubMed Central reference number (PMCID) when citing an article that falls under the policy.

If the PMICID reference number is not available, use the NIHMS ID reference number. If the PMCID or the NIHMS ID reference numbers are not available, cite as "PMCID pending."

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