Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

NIH Public Access Policy

A guide to the Public Access Policy of the National Institutes of Health. Provides an overview of the policy, along with specific steps to follow in order to bring articles into compliance.

Why am I asked to deposit the final peer-reviewed manuscript, rather than the final published article?

The NIH Public Access Policy requires that you deposit the final peer-reviewed manuscript. However, the final published article is also accepted if you have the rights to submit it.

  • The final peer-reviewed manuscript is the final version of a paper that includes all changes resulting from the peer-review process and has been accepted for publication.
  • The final published article is the authoritative copy of the paper published in the journal, including copy and format modifications.

You can see if the publisher allows you to submit the final published version by checking the SHERPA/RoMEO database. This information may also appear in the publication agreement between the authors and the publisher.

Ultimately, who is responsible for submission of articles to PMC?

As it can potentially delay or prevent funding of awards, non-compliance can impact institutions, principal investigators and other researchers whose work is funded by the award. It is however, the responsibility of the primary awardee for ensuring that the terms and conditions of an award are met.

This means that all peer-reviewed articles resulting from the grant should be deposited in PMC, including papers authored by sub-recipients. As PI, you may be responsible for ensuring that papers not authored by you, but resulting from your award, are deposited as well.

It is important to note that even if a third party - i.e. a publisher - has been tasked with submitting an article to PMC, they are not responsible for ensuring compliance with the policy and responsibility ultimately lies with the award recipients.

When does a manuscript need to be in PMC in order to be in compliance with the policy?

Manuscripts must be submitted to PMC and have a PMCID assigned to them within three months of publication in order to be in compliance.

However, NIH allows an embargo period (determined by the publisher) of up to twelve months post publication before a manuscript must be available to the public in PMC. This means, that many articles will have been submitted and assigned a PMCID but will not immediately be available to the public through PMC.

Who can submit a manuscript to NIHMS?

Manuscripts can be submitted by any of the authors, a PI, an administrator or any third party with access to the manuscript.

Who can act as reviewer in NIHMS - that is, approve the materials as they are finalized for deposit in PMC?

Only an author on the paper or, in cases where an author can't be found to do it, the PI can approve the manuscript as it moves through the NIHMS system.

The reason for this is that the materials are often submitted in pieces - text separate from tables and images. It's important for someone familiar with the work to review the finished PDF and make sure that it presents the research results correctly.

How do I find out what the embargo period is for an article?

The NIH allows an embargo period of up to 12 months for articles falling under the policy. Publishers determine whether the period will be 0, 6, or 12 months. You can find the embargo period required by the publisher on the publisher's web site. It's often easier to look up the journal's title in the SHERPA/RoMEO database.

I don't think my article falls under the policy. How do I let NIH know?

Articles do not need to comply with the NIH Public Access Policy and be added to PMC if any of the following are true:

  • Article was not peer-reviewed
  • Was accepted for publication before April 7, 2008
  • Is printed in a script other than Latin (Korean, Russian)
  • Was not directly supported by NIH funds active in FY08 or after

You can let NIH know this by editing the status of the article in My Bibliography:

Click "Edit Status" next to the article.

Screenshot of portion of My Bibliography where an article was designated Public Access Compliance "not defined" with a link "Edit Status" called out.

If no award has been associated with the article, you will be asked if the research was NIH funded.

Screencapture of a pop-up window in My Bibliography asking if the NIH supported the citation in whole or in part, with options to indicate "yes" or "no"

Then select "This publication does not need to be submitted under NIH Public Access because:" (and select your reason). Then click "Save & Close"

Screencapture of a pop-up window in My Bibliography showing options for editing the status of an article where at least one award was associated with it. Users can begin submission in NIHMS, add a NIHMS ID, indicate the submission will be through Method B, or that the article does not need to be submitted (and include a reason).

How do I associate an article with a grant?

You can add a grant to a publication in My Bibliography, by clicking on the "Add award" if there are no awards already associated with the article or by clicking on the link to view the awards if there are awards already linked (both examples in screenshot):

Screencapture from My Bibliography showing public access compliance status for two papers. One where it is "Not defined" that has an "Add Award" button which is called out. The other is in compliance with a status of "Complete" and the link to the awards associated with it "5 Awards" is called out.

Then you can either select the award from the list provided or use the second tab to search for the award by number or PI.

Screencapture from pop-up in My Bibliography showing the "NIH Awards" tab. There are two sections. The first is "My awards" (none are listed in this case because *I* don't have any). Below is a section with "Other awards". The ones listed have already been assigned to this particular article.  OR    Screencapture of pop-up from My Bibliography showing the "Search/Add other awards" tab. Several search fields are listed: "Grant Number", "Grantee First Name", and "Grantee Last Name."

Note: you can add or delete awards from multiple publications at one time. Just select the publications you want to modify. Then select "Manage awards" from the "Manage citations" dropdown at the top of the page.

Screencapture from My Bibliography showing the "Manage citations" dropdown menu at top of the page open with the first option "Manage awards" called out.

How do I disassociate an article from a grant?

You can remove a grant from a publication in My Bibliography if you are the owner of the grant or if you created the association between the grant and the article in My Bibliography. Removing the association is only possible if the grant does not have a lock next to it.

Screencapture of pop-up in My Bibliography showing awards associated with an article. Each of them has a lock next to it. One is gold, two are silver (or gray) and one is light blue. The meanings of these locks are in alt-text in My Bibliography.

The meaning of each lock can be read by hovering over the locks from within My Bibliography. These are below as well:

  • Gold lock = Connection made in NIHMS. Contact the NIHMS help desk if the grant should be removed from the publication.
  • Silver lock = Connection made in Commons on a progress report. The only way to change this would be to resubmit the report.
  • Blue lock = Connection made in My Bibliography, but you are neither the owner of the grant or the creator of the association.

If an article is checked off, but not locked, you are able to remove the association by unchecking it and saving the change.

Note: you can add or delete awards from multiple publications at one time. Just select the publications you want to modify. Then select "Manage awards" from the "Manage citations" dropdown at the top of the page.

Screencapture from My Bibliography showing the "Manage citations" dropdown menu at top of the page open with the first option "Manage awards" called out.


For feedback on this guide or to suggest a topic to cover, send an email.