NIH Public Access Policy

The NIH Public Access Policy ensures that the public has access to the published results of NIH funded research. Any peer-reviewed article accepted for publication on or after April 7, 2008 that arises from NIH funds must be submitted to PubMed Central (PMC).

Important News:

NIH released the following announcement on February 14, 2013: "For non-competing continuation grant awards with a start date of July 1, 2013 or beyond, NIH will delay processing of an award if publications arising from it are not in compliance with the NIH public access policy." For more information, see the full NIH notice: "Changes to Public Access Policy Compliance Efforts Apply to All Awards with Anticipated Start Dates on or after July 1, 2013"

Does the NIH Public Access Policy apply to you?

The Policy applies only to research and review manuscripts accepted by a peer-reviewed journal. The Policy does not apply to materials such as correspondence, book chapters, and editorials. In addition, the article must meet the following criteria:

  1. Directly funded by an NIH grant or cooperative agreement active in FY 2008 (October 1, 2007- September 30, 2008) or beyond;
  2. Directly funded by a contract signed on or after April 7, 2008.
  3. Directly funded by the NIH Intramural Program.

How do you comply?

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  1. Address Copyright

Make sure that any copyright transfer or other publication agreements allow the final peer-reviewed manuscripts to be submitted to NIH in accordance with the Policy.

MCW recommends the use of the standard copyright agreement language suggested by NIH, which should be inserted into the publisher’s copyright agreement at the time the investigator’s article is accepted for publication. This ensures the investigator’s right to deposit the article and supporting data to PMC. (Some publishers’ agreements may already contain this language; however, it is recommended that the investigator add it as a safeguard.)

  2. Submit Papers

NIH has developed four methods for ensuring applicable papers are submitted to PMC in compliance with the Public Access Policy.  The methods are outlined below:

Method A: Some publishers make the final published version of every NIH-funded article publicly available in PubMed Central within 12 months of publication, without author involvement. NIH maintains a list of "Method A" journals on their website.

Method B: Some publishers will deposit an individual final published article in PubMed Central upon author request, and generally for a fee.

Method C: Author submits the final peer-reviewed manuscript to NIH, upon acceptance for publication. You can submit the article yourself via the NIH Manuscript Submission System (NIHMS) or have MCW Libraries submit on your behalf.

Method D: In a variation of Method C, some publishers deposit the manuscript files in the NIHMS, provide contact information for a corresponding author (who must approve the manuscript), and designate the number of months after publication when the paper may be made publicly available in PMC.

**Simmons College maintains a helpful list of publisher policies on NIH-funded authors.

  3. Cite Papers

As of May 25, 2008, NIH applications, proposals, and progress reports must include the PubMed Central reference number (PMCID) when citing an article that falls under the policy and is authored or co-authored by the investigator, or arose from the investigator’s NIH award. This includes applications submitted to the NIH for the May 25, 2008 due date and subsequent due dates. Visit the NIH page on how to properly cite papers using the PMCID for more information.

For More Information:

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  NIH Public Access Policy Details
In December, 2007, Congress passed and the President signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act (PL-110-61). This law included language which made the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy mandatory and compliance to it a statutory requirement. The law became effective April 7, 2008 and states the following:

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 NIH Public Access Policy ensures that the public has access to the published results of NIH funded research. It requires scientists to submit final peer-reviewed journal manuscripts that arise from NIH funds to the digital archive PubMed Central upon acceptance for publication.  To help advance science and improve human health, the Policy requires that these papers are accessible to the public on PubMed Central no later than 12 months after publication.

Policy details are available at

  Additional Resources for Managing Manuscript Submission & Compliance
  NIH Manuscript Submission System (NIHMS) Resources

Here are links to resources created by the NIH to help you use the NIH Manuscript Submission system including tutorials on logging into the system and submitting your manuscripts.

  Frequently Asked Questions Resources

The NIH has provided a comprehensive set of resources to explain the details of the policy:

The MCW Libraries also have a PowerPoint presentation (PPSX) available on the NIH Public Access Policy.

Video: NIH Public Access Policy

The MCW Libraries held a class on the NIH Public Access Policy in June 2014. A recording of the class is available on YouTube:

NIH Public Access Policy Overview & Demo

Article Submission Process:

Submission by You

Information on how to submit your NIH-funded manuscripts into NIH Manuscript Submission System yourself.

Submission by Us

Information on the MCW Libraries Third Party Submitter Service, for submitting NIH-funded manuscripts to the NIH Manuscript Submission System