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NIH Public Access Policy

NIH Public Access Policy Overview

Logo for the NIH Public Access Policy

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) passed its Public Access Policy on April 7, 2008 in order to advance science and improve human health. The Policy states that all peer-reviewed articles NIH contributes funds to must be made publicly available on PubMed Central.

PubMed Central is a free, full text repository of journal articles, and is different from PubMed, which contains references and abstracts only.

The policy applies to any journal article that meets these criteria:

  1. Peer-reviewed
  2. Accepted for publication in a journal on or after April 7, 2008
  3. Arose in any part from an NIH grant, cooperative agreement, Intramural Program or contract active since the policy date, or from an NIH employee

See additional applicability guidelines and Policy details.The Policy was passed into law by the U.S. Congress in 2009.

Exempt publications include:

  • Review articles, unless the article underwent peer-review
  • Books; however a book chapter published in a series indexed in PubMed does fall under the Policy if it was peer-reviewed
  • Manuscripts in non-Latin scripts (e.g. Russian, Japanese), since they cannot be processed by the NIH

Exempt publications may still be reported in NIH progress reports via My NCBI, but listed at not applicable (N/A).

 

Key policy details

  1. Articles must be made publicly available in PubMed Central (PMC) no more than 12 months after the publication date.
  2. There are four methods for getting papers into PMC, depending on the publication.
  3. NIH gives you three months after publication to make each article compliant with the policy. Compliance means the paper has a PMCID (unique identifier in PMC).
    • The PMCID is a different number from the PMID (PubMed identifier). See explanation.
    • A PMCID is assigned before the paper is released to the public, thus a publication can be compliant even before it's publicly accessible.
  4. Principal Investigators are required to use My NCBI (and My Bibliography specifically) to report their publications in NIH progress reports. See My Bibliography & Progress Reports for specifics.
  5. Even if an investigator is not an author on a paper, NIH holds the PI responsible for papers resulting from their award.

Why is this policy important to me?

The answer, in short, is fundingAs of 2013, NIH has a strict policy of delaying the processing of non-competing renewal awards until all applicable articles are brought into compliance.

Resolving compliance issues can take weeks to resolve. Articles may not be removed from a progress report to avoid a compliance issue (see why). See Resolving Non-Compliant Publications for help.

Tips for hassle-free compliance

  1. Make sure all researchers and trainees on your grant know about the policy.
  2. Let the publisher know that your article falls under the policy during article submission and/or acceptance.
  3. Become familiar with Methods A-D
  4. Pay attention to all emails from NIHMS, and follow up when any action is required.

See all notices related to the Policy.