Skip to Main Content

NSF Public Access Policy

A guide to the Public Access Policy of the National Science Foundation. Provides an overview of the policy, along with steps for depositing a manuscript.

Policy Basics

Research products falling under the policy must be deposited with NSF through before they can be included in NSF project reports. 

IMPORTANT: You must cite the NSF grant on all papers you wish to include in progress reports!

Effective Date

The NSF's public access policy applies to research resulting from awards submitted or due after the effective date of January 25, 2016.

Research Products that Fall Under the Policy

  • Articles in "peer-reviewed scholarly journals"
  • “Papers in juried conference proceedings or transactions (also known as “juried conference papers”)”

Note: If you are familiar with the NIH Policy, this is a departure in that conference proceedings are included under NSF's, though not under NIH's policy.

Timeline for Compliance

The article or proceeding must be in compliance by the time a project report is submitted or it can not be included in the report. You can deposit the manuscript while compiling the report. NSF indicates that after deposit the process of validation will take no longer than six hours.

There is a publisher-determined "administrative period" (embargo) of up to 12 months that applies to deposited works. NSF (with publishers) determines and manages this period. You will not be asked to report this.

What Version to Submit


  • The Final Accepted Version (final, peer reviewed manuscript)
  • or Version of Record (final, published version) if the publisher allows

You must submit a PDF/A version of the paper, either way.

The version submitted may or may not be the one made available to the public, depending on publisher policies. It WILL be available to PIs, Co-PIs, and NSF Program Staff after the project report is submitted. 

How to Deposit

Manuscripts must be deposited through the site. Only the PI or co-PI can deposit these materials.

Submission can be done from in two ways

  • From “My Desktop”. Will take up to six hours for these to automatically appear in the project report under “products”. 
  • Or from within “Project Reports”. You will be prompted to submit when adding certain “products” that fall under the policy

For more details on deposit, see the next page.