NIH Public Access Policy for NIH-Funded Authors

The purpose of the NIH Public Access Policy on Enhancing Public Access to NIH-Funded Research is to establish a permanent archive of NIH-funded research publications. As of April 7, 2008, the policy is mandatory for all peer-reviewed journal articles arising from grants (signed on or after October 1, 2007). The policy stipulates that NIH-funded researchers are required to submit an electronic version of their final, peer reviewed manuscripts to PubMed Central, the publicly accessible NIH digital archive of full-text, peer-reviewed journal articles. Submission should occur immediately after an article's acceptance for publication, but it is required within 12 months of publication. The final peer-reviewed manuscript is the version submitted by the author to the publisher after making changes as a result of the peer-review process. This is the author's personal electronic copy, not the final published version or PDF from the journal/publisher.

For more information on the policy, see
NIH Public Access Policy - When and How to Comply
NIH Public Access Policy - Frequently Asked Questions
NIH Public Access Policy - Key Facts

How to Comply

Authors may submit an article for publication to the journal of their choice. However, researchers are responsible for ensuring that any publishing/copyright agreement complies with the policy, and if there is any question about the matter, they should communicate with the publisher before signing any agreement.

If a researcher chooses to publish in certain journals that automatically submit their articles to PubMed Central, s/he need do nothing further to comply with the submission requirement of the policy--the journal will submit the article for the researcher.

See Journals That Submit Articles To PubMed Central.

For any journal not in this list, however, the author must:

  • Inform the journal/publisher that the manuscript is subject to the NIH Public Access Policy when submitting the manuscript to the journal.
  • Make sure that any copyright/publication agreement allows the article to be submitted to NIH in accordance with the policy. To secure their rights, authors are encouraged to use the SPARC Author Addendum, or if they fill out an online agreement, they are encouraged to insert the following language into the publisher’s agreement:
    "Journal acknowledges that Author retains the right to provide a copy of the final manuscript to NIH, upon acceptance for Journal publication or thereafter, for public archiving in PubMed Central as soon as possible after publication by Journal"
  • Upon acceptance for publication, submit the article to NIH.
    NIH Submission Process
    NIH Manuscript Submission System

Once you have submitted your article, it will be assigned a PubMed Central ID number. Whenever you refer to the article in any future NIH grant application, proposal, or progress report, you will need to provide the PMC ID number. See Locating the PMCID number. If your journal is submitting your article for you and there is an emabargo period before your article is available in PubMed Central, you can locate your PMCID by checking the journal title in Journals That Submit Articles To PubMed Central.

The NIH policy is probably just a precursor of things to come for taxpayer financed research, as taxpayers are increasingly expecting that research produced from public funds should be made available free to the public after a reasonable period, see The Alliance for Taxpayer Access (ATA).

If you have any questions about the NIH Policy or other Open Access issues, contact: