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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 requires peer-reviewed articles that NIH funds be made publicly available on PubMed Central (PMC).
PMC is a free, full text repository of biomedical and life science journal literature. PMC is different from PubMed, which contains references and abstracts only.
The policy applies to any journal article that meets these criteria:
See additional applicability guidelines and details of the policy. The Policy is codified in the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act.
Exempt publications include:
Exempt publications may still be reported in NIH progress reports via My NCBI, but listed at not applicable (N/A). Find more about reporting and citing exempt publications to the NIH.
Revised guidelines & related NIH policies
NIH will be issuing a revised public access policy aligned with the 2022 White House Office of Science and Technology Policy guidance. The new policy will go into effect no later than December 31, 2025. Other NIH policies related to the Public Access Policy are:
*NIH will be eliminating the 12-month embargo per federal guidance. The policy will be updated no later than December 31, 2024, with changes to be implemented no later than December 31, 2025. Until then, investigators should continue to set the PMC public release for their articles at 12 months after publication (or sooner if allowed).
The answer, in short, is funding. As 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