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NIH Public Access Policy

A Guide to the NIH Public Access Policy

Getting Help!

The Health Sciences Library offers free individual & group consultations on NIH Public Access Policy (NIHPAP) compliance.

Contact us to schedule an appointment:

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Publisher Policies

Here are some sources of information on specific publisher policies, but note that these may not be complete or current. Always check with the publisher regarding their present policy.

The NIH's Identification Wizard

The NIH provides an automated "Identification Wizard" to help you identify the submission method required by the specific journal your article has been published in:

Simply follow instructions.

Submission Methods

The NIH Awardee, AKA the Principal Investigator (PI), always has final responsibility for making certain papers are submitted and processed into full compliance. In practice, some publishers do it for you. Check your journal's policy! Also note that any author can handle the submission process, though if a journal has initiated the process, responsibility will be assigned to the 'corresponding author' as identified by the journal. If necessary, responsibility can be reassigned to any other author upon request to the NIHMS Help.

The table below is adapted from the NIH Public Access Website.

Version of Paper Submitted

Final Published Article - Journal (PDF) Version Final Peer-Reviews Manuscript (pre-journal formatting)
Submission Process Publisher submits directly to PMC (author doesn't need to submit) Papers must be submitted via the NIHMS upon acceptance for publication. Publishers, authors or their designee deposit files.
Method of File Depositing

Method A: Some Journals automatically post NIH supported papers directly to PMC 

Method B: Authors must make special arrangements for some journals and publishers to post the paper directly to PMC 

Method C: Authors or their designee must submit manuscripts to the NIHMS

Method D: Some publishers will submit manuscripts to the NIHMS

Initial Submission Approval (approve pdf receipt) Publisher Author via NIHMS
Approve PMC Final Web Version Publisher Author via NIHMS

How to cite paper compliance, acceptance through 3 months post-publication

Provide PMCID or state "PMC-Journal- In Process" PMCID or NIHMS
How to cite paper compliance, 3 months post-publication-- PMCID PMCID


Clarifying Submission Methods A, B, C & D

Method A

Method A journal publishers have an agreement with the NIH to automatically submit the final published versions of all NIH-Funded articles to PubMed Central no later than 12 months post-publication. The author is not required to do anything for submission. (This is the easiest for the author.) However, the author should import or manually enter the citation into MyBibliography and monitor its progress to compliance. The PMCID will be required for reporting the paper to the NIH; in some progress reports, the NIH will draw the information directly from MyBibliography. See the NIH's Method A Best Practices.

Method B

Method B journal publishers have an agreement with the NIH to post final published versions of NIH-funded articles in PubMed Central on an individualized basis. Submission is not automatic; the author must pre-arrange with the publisher to post a specific article. Note that many publishers offer this as part of an 'Open Access' package that costs the author often significant amounts of money. While there are many advantages to publishing in an "Open Access" format, it is not required for Public Access compliance. Regardless of whether you choose a standard or "Open Access" publishing model, if the article is NIH-funded, it must still be submitted to PMC. Be certain to clarify this with the journal during the publication process. See the NIH's Method B Best Practices.

Method C

Method C publishers do not handle any of the submission process. The author is solely responsible for the entire submission process. The final peer-reviewed manuscript (pre-journal formatting) must be submitted upon acceptance for publication (most people wait for actual publication, but don't wait too long). The submission process often takes a month or two to fully process so if you need the article for NIH grant paperwork, submit as soon as you can. Also, be certain to clear the Public Access Policy compliance requirement with the journal publisher in advance of publication and watch for it in your author copyright form. Don't sign away your right to submit, as you'll find yourself in trouble if you do. Most publishers are aware of it now and will make an allowance for it - just pay attention. See the NIH's Methods C & D Best Practices.

Method D

Method D publishers may do the initial submission of the final peer-reviewed manuscript (pre-journal formatting) into the NIHMS system for you upon request. As you (the author) are responsible, please follow up with the journal to confirm the deposit. Once the publisher has done the deposit as you requested, you are responsible for completing the submission process before the 3-month allowed processing period is past. The NIHMS should email the corresponding author with a request to 1) approve the 'pdf receipt' and then 2) approve the 'final web version'. That author should immediately sign into NIHMS and do the necessary approvals. If the corresponding author is not available, another author can request that responsibility be shifted to him/her by contacting NIHMS Help. See the NIH's Methods C & D Best Practices.


NOTE: The grant PI is ultimately responsible for compliance for any article funded by their grant. Some papers may have multiple grants linked to them: each publication only needs to be made compliant once, but all grants should be linked to the paper via MyBibliography. 

NOTE: Journal publishers can be a nuisance to deal with if care is not taken in advance to prepare for this process. Think about it ahead of time and you'll save yourself trouble later.