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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:

Please read the Memorandum to NIH-funded Researchers and Authors (PDF) from David D. Gutterman, MD, Senior Associate Dean for Research regarding the revised NIH Public Access Policy (note that the contact information in this memo has been updated: please contact the MCW Libraries at or 414.955.8302 for assistance).

(MCW Libraries held information sessions on the NIH Public Access Policy from April-June 2009. The PowerPoint presentation is available.)

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.
  4. If NIH pays your salary.

How do you comply?

(For additional information, please visit the NIH "Frequently Asked Questions about the NIH Public Access Policy" page.)

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. 

Additional Resources for Managing Manuscript Submission & Compliance

The MCW Libraries can also provide compliance information for individual MCW authors or departments using reports generated in the NIH Public Access Compliance Monitor.  Please contact or 414.955.8302 for more information.
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Page Updated 07/11/2014