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NIH Public Access Policy

Guidelines for complying with the NIH Public Access Policy


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. It is important to be aware of compliance requirements whenever signing publishing agreements with publishers.

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. Each publisher has its own policy with regard to depositing for authors. Usually, the information appears on the publisher web page.For further information, contact Princeton's Scholarly Communications Office.


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

 Once you have a final manuscript and confirm with the journal that they will be depositing your paper, (Method A), there is  no need to submit it yourself.


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

Final peer-reviewed manuscript: After the article has undergone the peer-review process and all author modifications, and is 
accepted for journal publication, it is considered the final peer-reviewed manuscript. 

Final published article: The final published article is the journal’s authoritative copy of the paper, after it has undergone 
copyediting, stylistic edits, and formatting changes. It is often published on the publisher's web page.


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. 


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.  Even if the article was published, the peer-reviewed manuscript must be submitted if it meets the submission criteria.


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 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 so it can be deposited?

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. 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.