NIH public access policy

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy ensures that the public has access to the published results of NIH funded research.  It requires researchers to submit final peer-reviewed journal article manuscripts that arise from NIH funds to the digital archive PubMed Central upon acceptance for publication.  To accelerate science and improve human health, the Policy requires these papers to be publicly accessible (open access) in PubMed Central no later than 12 months after publication.

  • As of April 7, 2008, all articles arising from NIH funds must be submitted to PubMed Central upon acceptance for publication.
  • As of May 25, 2008, all NIH applications, proposals, and progress reports must include the PubMed Central reference number 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. 

UPDATE:  Beginning July 1, 2013, NIH will delay processing of an award if publications arising from NIH funding are not in compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy.  See Upcoming Changes to Public Access Policy Reporting Requirements and Related NIH Efforts to Enhance Compliance for further information.

The NIH Public Access Policy implements Division G, Title II, Section 218 of PL 110-161 (Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008). The law 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.

 

Goals of the Policy
  • Make the published results of taxpayer-funded research freely available to researchers, health care providers, educators, and the general public.
  • Ensure the availability of a long-term archive of NIH-funded research (PubMed Central).
  • Increase the accountability of NIH for how it spends taxpayer money.
Scope of the Policy

The Policy applies to all peer-reviewed journal articles.  Applications, Proposals and Reports must include evidence of compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy for all applicable papers that are authored by the Principal Investigator (PI) or arose from the PI’s NIH funds.

Principal Investigators and their institutions are responsible for ensuring all terms and conditions of NIH awards are met.  This includes depositing in PubMed Central all articles that arise directly from their awards, even if they are not an author or co-author of the publication.  Principal Investigators and their institutions should ensure that authors are aware of and comply with the NIH Public Access Policy.

NIH Policy FAQ

Address copyright

Authors are responsible for ensuring that any copyright transfer or other publication agreement allows the article to be submitted to NIH in accordance with the Policy.  Authors must retain sufficient rights to grant NIH a license to make their work publicly available in PubMed Central.

Submit article

So long as they retain sufficient rights, authors may submit an article to the journal of their choice for publication. Upon acceptance for publication, authors or someone acting on their behalf must submit the article using the NIH Manuscript Submission (NIHMS) system.

  • Journals that have partnered with PubMed Central will submit final published articles on the authors’ behalf in compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy (i.e., within 12 months of publication).  See Partner journals that will submit final published articles for free.
  • Some journals and publisher programs will submit final published articles or author peer-reviewed manuscripts to PubMed Central on behalf of authors and grant more liberal redistribution and reuse rights than normally accompany a copyrighted work.  In some cases there is a fee for this service.  Details are available at PMC Open Access Subset.  

In both of the above cases, after the publisher submits an article, the author or the Principal Investigator (PI) on the project will receive two email messages from NIHMS:

  1. A request to approve the PDF version that was submitted (to ensure that the correct file was submitted). After the PDF is approved, it will be converted to an XML format for use in PubMed Central.
  2. A request to approve the web (XML) version that will be made available in PubMed Central.  

NOTE: Some journals will submit final published articles for authors, but not make them publicly available within 12 months of publication.  Such submissions do not comply with the NIH Public Access Policy.  The author or a designated third party must therefore submit a copy of the final peer-reviewed manuscript. (See below.)  Authors are strongly encouraged to communicate clearly with the publisher to understand exactly what the publisher will or will not do on their behalf.

For all other journals, the author must:
  1. Inform the journal publisher that the article is subject to the NIH Public Access Policy when submitting it for publication. This can be accomplished with a cover letter submitted along with the copyright transfer or publication agreement.
  2. Make sure that any copyright transfer or other publication agreement allows the article to be submitted to NIH in accordance with the Policy. This can be accomplished with an author’s addendum attached to the publisher’s agreement. Generate appropriate addendum here.
  3. Upon acceptance for publication, see that the final peer-reviewed manuscript of the article is submitted using the NIH Manuscript Submission (NIHMS) system.  Authors may self-submit their manuscripts or authorize a third-party to submit manuscripts on their behalf.  See the Submission Process for more information.
  4. Approve the submission.

If the author submits the manuscript, the author or the Principal Investigator on the project will receive one email message from NIHMS requesting approval of the web (XML) version.  If a third party submits the manuscript, the author or Principal Investigator will receive two email messages from NIHMS:

  1. A request to approve the PDF version that was submitted (to ensure that the correct file was submitted). After the PDF is approved, it will be converted to an XML format for use in PubMed Central.
  2. A request to approve the web (XML) version that will be made available in PubMed Central.