NIH Public Access Policy

If you receive funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), you may be subject to the NIH Public Access Policy. This policy requires that NIH-funded researchers submit a copy of their refereed journal articles to PMC (formerly PubMed Central) upon acceptance for publication, to be made publicly available no later than 12 months after publication.

Non-compliance will delay awards

The NIH will delay the processing of non-competing continuation grant awards with a budget start date of July 1, 2013 or beyond if any publications arising from the award are not in compliance with the policy.

PIs are responsible for compliance

As the Principal Investigator (PI) of an award from the NIH, you are responsible for ensuring that all publications arising from your award are in compliance with the policy, whether or not you are an author on the publication.

What You Need to Know

Summary of Policy

  1. The policy is mandatory
  2. Peer-reviewed publications resulting from NIH funding are subject to the policy
  3. PMC is the repository for publications arising from NIH awards
  4. Articles subject to the policy that are accepted for publication must be deposited in PMC

Steps to Take

  1. Deal with copyright
  2. Deposit paper in PMC upon acceptance for publication
  3. Cite the article

Summary

1. The policy is mandatory

The NIH Public Access Policy is required by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008. The Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009 made the policy permanent. The law states:

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.

2. Peer-reviewed publications resulting from NIH funding are subject to the policy

The policy applies to any peer-reviewed publications—such as journal articles, research reports, and reviews—that result from NIH funding and that were accepted for publication on or after April 7, 2008.

3. PMC is the repository for publications arising from NIH awards.

PMC (formerly PubMed Central) is a freely accessible digital archive of full-text, peer-reviewed publications developed by the National Library of Medicine.

  • The unique identifier for items in PMC, the PMCID, is used to demonstrate compliance with the policy (see below).

4. Articles subject to the policy that are accepted for publication must be deposited in PMC

One of the following versions must be deposited in PMC:

  • Final peer-reviewed manuscript: The author's final version of the article including any changes made during the peer-review process. This is deposited by authors or journals (see below).
  • Final published version: The journal's final version of the article, which includes changes made during the peer-review process and during copy editing, typesetting, and formatting. This is deposited by journals (see below).

Steps to Take

1. Deal with copyright

Before you sign any publication agreement related to articles subject to the Public Access Policy, make sure the agreement allows for the submission of the final peer-reviewed manuscript to PMC in accordance with the policy. Many publishers have standard contract language that addresses the PAP.

Suggested steps

  1. Make sure you understand your publisher's standard process for submitting articles to PMC (if there is one). Ask what version of the paper will be submitted, who will be responsible for overseeing the process, and when the paper will be publicly available in PMC (see below).
  2. If necessary, attach an amendment to your publication agreement to clarify the rights you want to retain.
  3. Keep a copy of all your publication agreements in your permanent files.

Resources

2. Deposit paper in PMC upon acceptance for publication

Once you have retained sufficient rights to submit their article to PMC, you must make sure the submission process is completed. The steps required to submit articles are determined by the nature of your agreement with your publisher.

  • See the NIH's description of the different possible scenarios for submitting an article, named Methods A, B, C, and D.

Many publishers will deposit articles in PMC for you.

If the publisher does not deposit articles to PMC, authors can deposit articles themselves using the NIHMS (Method C).

3. Cite the article

You need to demonstrate compliance with the Public Access Policy in applications, proposals, and progress reports to the NIH. This requirement applies not only to articles that you authored or co-authored, but also to articles you cite that are written by someone else whose research was funded by your NIH award.

PMCID

In your submissions to NIH, demonstrate compliance with the policy by including the PMCID (received upon completing submissions to PMC) when citing articles resulting from your NIH funding.

  • See the NIH's information page on including PMCIDs in citations.
  • For the first three months after publication, if a PMCID is not yet available, the NIH Manuscript Submission system reference number (NIHMSID) may be included instead.
  • The PMCID is not the same as the PubMed reference number (PMID).

MyNCBI

Use MyNCBI to track compliance with the policy.

  • MyNCBI can be linked to eRA Commons accounts.
  • By linking to eRA Commons, you can associate publications with NIH grants.
  • MyNCBI tracks which publications are in compliance with the policy.

Resources at Columbia

The content on this page is based on a presentation by staff members of Sponsored Projects Administration and the August C. Long Health Sciences Library. See videos of their information sessions on the enhanced NIH public access policy, along with the presentation slides, here.

Copyright Advisory Office  This office can answer questions about publisher agreements and other copyright issues.

Sponsored Projects Administration  The SPA provides assistance with grant applications.

Office of Research Compliance and Training  Contact this office if you have other questions and comments about the NIH Public Access Policy.