The National Institutes of Health is the largest funder of medical research in the world, funding hundreds of research projects every year. The researchers who benefit typically publish their results in high-cost subscription-based scientific journals. This renders them inaccessible to the public and to many libraries. Since taxpayers indirectly fund these research projects, laws were changed to ensure public access to the results of government-funded research. The solution to breaking down the barrier between people and published research was to pass a law requiring NIH-funded researchers to post their articles in a free online library, PubMed Central. The “NIH Public Access Policy” ensures the public’s access to published results of NIH-funded research; but publishers won the concession that release may be delayed (embargoed) at their discretion– though in most cases, for no longer than one year.
Just call the TMC Library at 713.799.7114 or email us at:
We can answer your questions about the NIH Policy and help you with the submission process!
Who Must Comply?
Researchers who receive funding from the National Institutes of Health must submit the final, peer-reviewed manuscripts of their journal articles to PubMed Central. Manuscripts must be submitted immediately upon acceptance for publication and must be accessible to the public no later than 12 months after the article is published in a journal.
The policy applies to all peer-reviewed journal articles accepted for publication on or after April 7, 2008 and that arise from any of the following:
- Any direct funding from an NIH grant or cooperative agreement active in Fiscal Year 2008 or beyond
- Any direct funding from an NIH contract signed on or after April 7, 2008
- Any direct funding from the NIH Intramural Program
- Policy does not apply to non-peer-reviewed materials, such as book chapters or editorials.
PMC increases your readership (and citation rates) by making your articles freely accessible.
To comply, you need to do three things:
- Make sure your copyright agreement with your journal publisher allows you to comply
- Deposit your article in PMC
- Cite your PMCID numbers in grant reports and other proposals
** If you receive $500,000 or more in a year, you must also include a data management plan for sharing your final research data.
A. How to Secure the Required Copyright
Publishers often take all your copyrights when you agree to publish in their journal. You need to work with your publisher before you sign any publication contract to ensure the publishing contract allows you to deposit your article in PMC. Your agreement with a publisher should stipulate:
- What submission method will be used
- The version of the paper to be made available on PMC: the final peer-reviewed manuscript (without the journal’s fonts, pagination, etc.) or the final article as it appears in the journal (with the fonts and pagination)
- Who will submit the paper (the author or the publisher)
- When it will be submitted
- Who will approve the submission
- When the paper is to be made public on PMC (embargoes must be under 12 months)
Individual copyright agreements can take many forms. You should consult your institution’s legal counsel to see if it has any specific policies or contract addenda. TMC researchers can contact:
If your institution does not offer specific legal language to attach to your contract, you will need to at least include something similar to NIH’s suggested addendum:
“Journal acknowledges that Author retains the right to provide a copy of the final peer-reviewed manuscript to the NIH upon acceptance for Journal publication, for public archiving in PubMed Central as soon as possible but no later than 12 months after publication by Journal.”
Many universities recommend using the SPARC Author Addendum generator to create a print addendum to your publishing agreement that will enable you to comply with the NIH requirement. It can also create language to secure additional copyrights (for distributing copies in classes, posting on a personal and/or institutional website, etc.)
Here are examples of the contract language some other institutions have used:
B. How to Submit your Article to PMC
There are four submission methods. Method A and B involve the final article as it appears in the journal (with the journal’s fonts, pagination, etc.). Method C and D involve the final peer-reviewed manuscript (without the journal’s fonts, etc.) There’s an excellent flow-chart of the various methods at: http://becker.wustl.edu/pdf/NIHComplianceFlowchart.pdf You can also see the NIH Guide to Submission Methods.
Some journals automatically deposit all NIH-funded final published articles into PMC without author involvement. Usually you will need to pay a fee to the journal for this service. A list of these journals is available at http://publicaccess.nih.gov/submit_process_journals.htm You will need to reply to emails from the NIH to verify accuracy of the submitted manuscript, illustrations, etc.
Most journals do NOT automatically submit your article to PMC for you. Some will do so on request for a fee. You can see the publishers who do this at: http://publicaccess.nih.gov/select_deposit_publishers.htm (Look at the column under “Method B.”) You will need to reply to emails from the NIH to verify accuracy of the submitted manuscript, illustrations, etc.
You deposit your final peer-reviewed manuscript in PMC yourself via the NIH Manuscript Submission System (NIHMS). NIHMS has different ways to upload depending on who you are. Choose “My NCBI” unless you work for the NIH or were funded by the HHMI. You will need the grant number(s), grantee, author names, the final peer-reviewed manuscript, and any supporting figures, tables, charts, graphics, and supplementary data that were submitted to the publisher. NIH will convert the files into standard PubMed format. You will need to reply to emails from the NIH to verify accuracy of the submitted manuscript, illustrations, etc.
Some publishers start the submission process for you, but require you to complete it. They deposit your final peer-reviewed manuscript for you and determine the number of months after publication when the article may be made publicly available in PMC. You are required to finish the submission process in NIHMS. You will need to reply to emails from the NIH to verify accuracy of the submitted manuscript, illustrations, etc.
C. How to Cite
When you submit your article, it will be assigned a temporary NIHMS number. When your article is published you will get a PMCID number (PubMed Central ID number). Only use the NIHMS number until the PMCID is available. After that the NIHMS number is invalid.
Be sure to make note of these numbers. You will need to include the relevant one in your grant’s progress reports, final reports, and future NIH applications and proposals. For detailed information, see http://publicaccess.nih.gov/citation_methods.htm
Please note: The PMCID is not the same thing as the PMID number (PubMed ID number). The PMCID number appears on the article in both PubMed and PubMed Central. They are two different databases with very similar names. If you only have the PMID, you can find out the PMCID using the PMCID Converter.
Article with a PMCID number:
Doe, John, Smith, Mary. Common Misuse of Insulin-Pumps. Journal of Juvenile Diabetes Studies. 2009 January 31; 145(7): 578-599. PMCID: PMC4842371
Articles that don’t have PMCID numbers yet:
For Submission Methods A and B, use “PMC Journal – In Process”
Doe, John, Smith, Mary. Common Misuse of Insulin-Pumps. Journal of Juvenile Diabetes Studies. 2009 January 31; 145(7): 578-599. PMCID: PMC Journal – In Process
For Submission Methods C and D, use the NIHMS ID number:
Doe, John, Smith, Mary. Common Misuse of Insulin-Pumps. Journal of Juvenile Diabetes Studies. 2009 January 31; 145(7): 578-599. NIHMSID: NIHMS12345
For more information on how to find PMCID numbers, go to: NLM Technical Bulletin
For information on using PMCIDs in EndNote go to: http://www.galter.northwestern.edu/images/cms/Modifying%20EndNote.pdf
How to Check your Compliance
Use My NCBI’s “My Bibliography” tool to manage your compliance. Use the “Award” display to see whether your publications are compliant.
FAQs and Tutorials
NIH will delay processing of non-competing continuation grant awards if publications arising from that award are not in compliance with the NIH public access policy.
- NIHMS Help Desk: answers questions about the submission process (generally takes 7-10 business days)
- PublicAccess@nih.gov Answers questions and comments about the NIH Public Access Policy
We Can Help You!
The TMC Library can help members of the TMC community. Call us for:
- One-on-one help submitting your article to PubMed Central
- Journal copyright policies
- A list of open-access journals in your field of study
Contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org
Starting July 1, 2013
- NIH will delay processing of an award if publications arising from it are not in compliance with the NIH public access policy.
- Investigators will need to use My NCBI to enter papers onto progress reports. Papers can be associated electronically using the R
NOBEL PRIZE WINNERS support the NIH Public Access Policy.