Skip to main content

NIH Public Access Policy: Frequently Asked Questions

Guidelines for complying with the NIH Public Access Policy


Q. Where do I go for on-campus training about the new NIH Public Access Policy?

A. For training about the new NIH Public Access Policy contact:

Jeff Friedland
Director, ORPA
4 New South 
Phone: 609-258-3090
Fax: 609-258-1159


Q. I have questions about the NIH Public Access Policy. Where can I obtain more information?

A. See Public Access Frequently Asked Questions from NIH or send an e-mail to NIH.


Q. What is PubMed Central?

A. PubMed Central (PMC) is the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) free, permanent digital archive of full-text biomedical and life sciences journal literature.


Q. At what point should I be concerned about complying with the NIH Public Access Policy?

A. Authors own the original copyrights to materials they write and should work with the publisher before any rights are transferred to ensure that all conditions of the NIH Public Access Policy can be met. Authors should avoid signing any agreements with publishers that do not allow the author to comply with the NIH Public Access Policy and should be consistent with individual arrangements with the author's employing institution.

Q.  I publish in social science journals that are not on the list of publications that submit all NIH articles to PubMed Central. What are the public access policies of these journals?

A. See the Carolina Population Center's Select List of Journals' Policies on Compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy


Q. The journal that publishes my work routinely deposits its papers in PubMed Central.  Do I have to submit my paper myself?

 See "Who Starts the Deposit Process?" on the Submission Methods page.


Q. What is the difference between a final peer-reviewed manuscript and final published article?

Final peer-reviewed manuscript: The Investigator's final manuscript of a peer-reviewed paper accepted for journal publication, including all modifications from the peer review process.

Final published article: The journal’s authoritative copy of the paper, including all modifications from the publishing peer review process, copyediting and stylistic edits, and formatting changes.


Q. My paper is based on research only partially funded by NIH. Is the paper required to be submitted?

A. The Policy applies to any manuscript that:

  • Is peer-reviewed;
  • And, is accepted for publication in a journal on or after April 7, 2008;
  • And, arises from:
    • Any direct funding 1 from an NIH grant or cooperative agreement active in Fiscal Year 2008, or;
    • Any direct funding from an NIH contract signed on or after April 7, 2008, or;
    • Any direct funding from the NIH Intramural Program, or;
    • An NIH employee.

Authors may submit final peer-reviewed manuscripts accepted before April 7, 2008 that arise from NIH funds, if they have appropriate copyright permission.

1 "Directly" funded means costs that can be specifically identified with a particular project or activity. See NIH Grants Policy Statement, Rev. 12/2003.


Q. Do I need to submit articles that have already been published?

A. NIH Public Access Policy requires authors to submit peer-reviewed articles that have been accepted for publication on or after April 7, 2008. Authors do not have to submit articles that are already published. The policy applies to those who receive NIH funds after October 1, 2008.


Q: Should I check the box asking whether NIH Program Administrators can access the manuscript before its release to PMC?

A: The reviewers look for content and compliance. It is not mandatory to let the NIH Program Administrators view your submission before it is released. (Q and A courtesy of the Carolina Population Center Library)


Q. What should a researcher do when the grant number does not automatically appear in the "grants" field in the NIHMS submission process (e.g. the project has been funded for many years)?

A. Search on the number or the Principal Investigator's (PI) name. If they cannot find the grants this way, they should write to the NIHMS Help Desk with the grant/contract numbers, the title, the awardee, and the issuing institute so we can research them.

To contact the NIHMS Help Desk, go to, scroll to the bottom and select the Contact the Help Desk link. (Q and A courtesy of the Carolina Population Center Library)


Q. What should an author do when the publisher asks to delay the submission of the manuscript to PubMed Central (perhaps up to "several months"), so that the publisher can edit and and format the manuscript and then send the final PDF back to me so I can deposit that version.

A. The NIH Public Access Policy states that authors must deposit their articles immediately upon acceptance for publication, so the author should submit his/her manuscript and not wait for the publisher to send the final PDF version.
(Q and A courtesy of the Carolina Population Center Library)


Q. Does the NIH Public Access Policy cover articles written in languages other than English?

A. Yes, technically the policy covers all peer-reviewed articles that arise from direct funding from NIH. This includes articles written in any language. However, NIH has limited capacity to handle different alphabets. Contact when an article is accepted for publication and is written in a language other than English. Provide the journal title and the language in which the article is written. (Q and A courtesy of the Carolina Population Center Library)


Q. I have a PubMed number but not a PubMed Central number. What do I do?

A. See the PMID : PMCID Converter.

Questions about submitting?

NIHMS System User’s Guide to Submitting a Manuscript

The NIHMS has a help desk to assist with submissions. Contact the NIHMS.

For a detailed explanation of each submission method (#2 in the "Compliance is a Three-step Process" box) see NIH Submission Methods.