NIH Open Access Support

printer-friendlyprinter-friendlye-mail this pagee-mail this page

What is the NIH Public Access Policy?


The National Institutes of Health Public Access Policy requires investigators to submit their NIH-funded final, peer reviewed manuscript to the NIH Manuscript Submission System (NIHMS), for posting in the National Library of Medicine's PubMed Central (PMC) archival database. The manuscript should be submitted immediately after the final date of journal publication and no later than 12 months following publication.

In January 2008, the U.S. Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act.  Section 218 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."

As a Researcher, what do I need to do?


  1. Before submitting your article to a publisher, reserve the right to deposit the final, peer-reviewed manuscript of NIH funded research articles into PubMed Central for public access.
  2. Deposit the article into PubMed Central using the NIH Manuscript Submission System (NIHMS).
  3. Include the PubMed Central ID (PMCID) in citations for deposited articles, when referencing them in NIH applications, proposals and progress reports.

How do I reserve rights to deposit to PubMed Central?


This can be accomplished in several different ways:

  • Review the publisher's copyright agreement form. The form may include an option to allow authors to submit their manuscripts to PubMed Central in order to comply with NIH policy.  If it does not include language for you to deposit to PubMed Central, then you can negotiate terms using NIH's sample language:  "Journal acknowledges that Author retains the right to provide a copy of the final 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."
  • You can attach an Addendum to Publication Agreement (pdf) that the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) has created for authors to print and sign.
  • You can complete the addendum online at Science Commons.  

How do I deposit my article to NIH/PubMed Central?


To support the submission process, NIH has developed the NIH Manuscript Submission System (NIHMS).  This system allows principal investigators to submit manuscripts and supplementary files in many different electronic formats such as TIFF, JPEG, GIF, and PDF.

How do I include the PubMed Central number?


List the PubMed Central reference number (PMCID) at the end of the already-required full journal citation for the article. If a PubMed Central reference number is not yet available, include the NIH Manuscript Submission system reference number (NIHMS ID) instead.

Frequently Asked Questions About NIH Public Access


See the NIH FAQ Page for more information, or contact Danelle Orange, Digital Projects Librarian, at ext. 2588.

Page last updated on April 22, 2014