NIH Public Access Policy and Compliance

Provides information on the National institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy mandate and how researchers can be in compliance.

About the NIH Public Access Policy

The NIH Public Access Policy requires that all researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) submit or have submitted for them to the National Library of Medicine's PubMed Central (PMC) an electronic version of their final, peer-reviewed manuscripts upon acceptance for publication, to be made publicly available no later than 12 months after the official date of publication. 

For non-competing continuation grant awards with a start date of July 1, 2013 or beyond:

  • NIH will delay processing of an award if publications arising from it are not in compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy.
  • Investigators will need to use My NCBI  (a feature in PubMed), along with their eRA Commons account to enter papers onto progress reports.  Papers can be associated electronically using the Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR), or included in the PHS 2590 using the My NCBI generated PDF report.

Please see NOT-OD-12-160 for more details.

NIH Public Acess Policy -- does it apply to me?

NIH Public Access Policy Overview

The policy applies to you if your article:

  • Is peer-reviewed;
  • And, was accepted for publication after April 7, 2008;
  • And, arises from:
    • Any direct funding from an NIH grant or cooperative agreement active in Fiscal Year 2008 (October 1, 2007 - September 30, 2008) or beyond, or;
    • Any direct funding from an NIH contract signed on or after April 7, 2008, or;
    • Any direct funding from the NIH Intramural Program, or;
    • Any NIH employee (NIH pays your salary).

The policy does NOT apply to:

  • books or book chapters,
  • editorials,
  • dissertations or conference proceedings,
  • non-peer reviewed articles.

Compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy is required and is included as a term and condition of the award, in accordance with the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

Public Access FAQs

My NCBI & My Bibliography

My NCBI Overview

My NCBI is a tool that retains user information and database preferences to provide customized services for many NCBI databases. It allows you to save searches, select display formats, filtering options, and set up automatic searches that are sent by e-mail. My NCBI includes other features that help you save your citations and manage peer reviewed article compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy (My Bibliography) as well as create an online professional profile (SciENcv),

Integrating Policy with NCBI

eRA Commons has partnered with the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) to link NCBI’s personal online tool, ‘My NCBI,’ to the Commons.  My NCBI offers an online portal—‘My Bibliography’—for users to maintain and manage a list of their authored works, such as journal articles, manuscripts accepted for publication, books, and book chapters.  Beginning in April 2010, linking an eRA Commons account to a new or existing My NCBI account allows references saved in My Bibliography to automatically appear in users’ progress reports that are prepared in the Commons.

Benefits of Integrating with NCBI

  • Less manual data entry, improved data quality, increased ease of system use.
  • Ability to populate citation data from PubMed, PubMed Central, and the NIH Manuscript Submission system (NIHMS), and to readily maintain accurate, structured and up-to-date bibliographic information.
  • Improved data quality enhances the ability of the NIH to manage and monitor the results of its research portfolios
  • Grantees can easily track compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy using a simple color-coded key in ‘My Bibliography.’
  • Commons users can associate their ‘My Bibliography’ citations with a progress report in Commons; and designate delegates to maintain their professional bibliographies in ‘My Bibliography.’'

My NCBI Help

My NCBI Tutorial  (YouTube video, 2:30 minutes)

My Bibliography Help

My Bibliography Tutorial (YouTube video, 1:58 minutes)

Addressing copyright

Before an author signs a publication agreement or similar copyright transfer agreement, they need to make sure that the agreement allows the paper to be posted to PubMed Central (PMC) in accordance with the NIH Public Access Policy. Final, peer-reviewed manuscripts must be posted to the NIH Manuscript Submission System (NIHMS) upon acceptance for publication, and be made publicly available on PMC no later than 12 months after the official date of publication. Institutions and investigators are responsible for ensuring that any publishing or copyright agreements concerning submitted articles fully comply with this Policy.

What authors should consider when submitting an article to a publisher:

  • What submission method will be used?  [Method A, B, C or D]
  • What version of the paper will be made available on PMC?  [Publisher's final pdf or Author's peer-reviewed manuscript]
  • Who will submit the paper?  [Publisher or author]
  • When will it be submitted?  [Upon acceptance for publication]
  • Who will approve the submission?  [Publisher or author]
  • When can the paper be made public on PMC?  [Maximum is 12 months after official publication]

Definitions: Document types

  • Final peer-reviewed manuscript
    • The version that exists when the publication agreement is signed, after peer-review, but before copy-editing, layout, etc.
    • Not yet formatted in the journal's style
    • Usually a Word document.
  • Final published article
    • Journal’s authoritative copy of the paper.
    • Includes copyediting, stylistic edits, layout, etc.
    • Usually a PDF.

NIH FAQ: Whose approval do I need to submit my final peer-reviewed manuscript to PMC?


University of Minnesota : BTAA Author's Addendum

Instructions for the use of the Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA) author's addendum (replaces the CIC author's addendum).

Submitting manuscripts

There are four methods to ensure that an applicable paper is submitted to PubMed Central (PMC) in compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy. Authors may use whichever method is most appropriate for them and consistent with their publishing agreement. 

The four submission methods vary in:

  • Version posted
  • Use of the NIH Manuscript Submission System (NIHMS)
  • Role of publishers
  • Role of authors
  • Participating journals

NIH Manuscript Submission System  (Entry page for manuscript submission to PMC (PubMed Central))

Identify Submission Method:

  • Method A : Journal deposits final published articles in PubMed Central without author involvement.
    • Journals that automatically submit to PMC : These journals have a contract with NIH to make the final published version of all NIH-funded articles available in PubMed Central (PMC) no later than 12 months after publication without author involvement. 
  • Method B : Publishers and journals have an agreement with NIH to post individual final published articles in PubMed Central (PMC) on a case-by-case basis. These journals do not automatically post every NIH-funded paper in PMC. Rather, the author can choose to arrange with the journal to post a specific article; this usually involves choosing the journal’s fee-based open access option for publishing that article. 
    • Publishers that will support authors in posting papers to PMC: List of publishers who do NOT automatically deposit papers, but will either deposit papers or manuscripts on a case by case basis.
    • These are typically journals that offer an "open" option for authors, where the paying of an "author's fee" or "article processing charge" (APC) will make the article publicaly available at time of publication.  Also known as hybrid journals.  All of the major publishers have "open" options.
    • Authors using this submission method are still responsible for ensuring that the journal posts the article to PMC to be made publicly available no later than 12 months after publication, in accordance with the NIH Public Access Policy.
  • Method C : Author deposits final peer-reviewed manuscript in PMC via the NIHMS.
    • Self-submitting of final peer-reviewed manuscripts to NIHMIS involves three tasks:
      • Task 1: Deposit/upload manuscript files and link to NIH funding -- may be done by an author or delegate (librarian, administrative assistant).
      • Task 2: Authorize NIH to process the manuscript.
        • Approval of the PDF Receipt requires author review and authorization.
      • Task 3: Approve the PMC-formatted manuscript for public display.
        • Approval of the  web version of the manuscript requires author review and authorization.
  • Method D : Author completes submission of final peer-reviewed manuscript deposited by publisher in the NIHMS.
    • Publishers will deposit in the NIH Manuscript Submission System (NIHMS): Publisher deposits the final peer-reviewed manuscript into NIHMS.
      • The Author must complete all remaining steps (see Method C Tasks 2 & 3) in the NIHMS in order for the submission to be accepted.
    • Most of the major publishers fall into this category, such as Elsevier, Wiley, Springer, etc.  Do make sure you check the author's publishing agreement though, as journals that are "hosted" by major publishers may have different policy practices.

The NIHMS Submission Process



NIHMS Step by Step Tutorials

Citing the manuscripts

Anyone submitting an application, proposal or report to the NIH must include the PMC reference number (PMCID) when citing applicable papers that they author or that arise from their NIH-funded research.

How to Cite

1. Include the PubMed Central reference number (PMCID) at the end of citations.

  • For papers published more than 3 months before an application, proposal and report is submitted: List the PubMed Central reference number (PMCID) at the end of the full journal citation for the paper in NIH applications, proposals and reports. A PMCID is the only way to demonstrate compliance for these papers.
    • Example:
      • Varmus H, KlausnerR, ZerhouniE, AcharyaT, DaarA, Singer P. 2003. PUBLIC HEALTH: Grand Challenges in Global Health. Science 302(5644): 398–399. PMCID: PMC243493
  • For papers in press, or published within 3 months of when an application, proposal or report is submitted:.
    • For Method A and B Journals, use “PMC Journal - In Process” or the PMCID at the end of the full citation.
      • Example: Sala-TorraO, GundackerHM, StirewaltDL, LadnePA, Pogosova-AgadjanyanEL, Slovak ML, WillmanCL, HeimfeldS, BoldtDH, RadichJP. Connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) expression and outcome in adult patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Blood. [a publication date within 3 months of when the application, proposal or report was submitted to NIH]. PMCID: PMC Journal - In Process
    • When using Submission Method C or D, provide a valid NIH Manuscript Submission System reference number (NIHMSID) or PMCID at the end of the full citation. Note, NIH awardees are responsible for ensuring that all steps of the NIHMS submission process are complete within three months of publication
      • Example:  CerratoA, ParisiM, Santa Anna S, MissirlisF, Guru S, AgarwalS, SturgillD, Talbot T, Spiegel A, Collins F, ChandrasekharappaS, Marx S, Oliver B. Genetic interactions between Drosophila melanogastermeninand Jun/Fos. DevBiol. In press. NIHMSID: NIHMS44135

2. Place the Literature Citations in the appropriate location. The appropriate locations for literature citations vary depending on the application type.

See the Guide Notice NOT-OD-08-119 for details.

Locating the PMCID

The PMCID is posted in PubMed as soon as an article has been successfully processed by PMC. The easiest way to find and track PMCIDs is to add the paper to My NCBI/My Bibliography. My NCBI will automatically add the PMCID to a citation as soon as it is available.

PMCIDs are listed in the lower right corner of the Abstract Plus view of PubMed. If the paper is successfully processed but not yet publicly available on PMC, PubMed will also list the date the paper will become available. NIH provides other methods of obtaining PMCIDs (see PMID/PMCID converter), as do several bibliographical management tools.

PMCID - PMID - Manuscript ID - DOI Converter

If you have a PubMed ID (PMID), a PMC ID (PMCID), Manuscript ID (NIHMS) or DOI (Digital Object Identifier) for an article in PMC, you have the option of using the ID Converter tool.   This utility allows you to start with any of the above unique identifiers for an article in PMC (PubMed Central) and get back the other IDs that apply to the article.

Managing compliance

Managing Compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy Using My Bibliography

My Bibliography facilitates the management of publication compliance with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy. With the Awards View eRA Commons users are able to see whether their publications are compliant with the Policy, start the manuscript submission process, associate their NIH extramural awards with their publications, and designate delegates to manage their bibliography via My NCBI.

The Awards View is only available to eRA Commons users or their delegates who have linked their My NCBI account with their eRA Commons account. 

My Bibliography eRA Commons linked

In the Awards View, each citation listed is color coded indicating its compliance status:

  • Red coding indicates that an article is non-compliant or not defined.  Not defined citations do not have awards associated to them and they do not display a PMCID. Citations that are not defined need to be identified as publications supported by NIH grants.  Non-compliant article citations have awards associated to them but the research article manuscripts have not been submitted to the NIH Manuscript Submission (NIHMS) system. Non-compliant article citations do not display a PMCID.

My Bibliography non compliant coding

  • Blue coding means that the citation has been submitted to the NIH Manuscript Submission system and is considered in process.   Note that the citation below has been assigned an NIHMS article ID number.

     My bibliography in process coding
  • Green coding indicates that the citation is compliant with the NIH Public Access Policy. Note that the PMCID number displays in this status.

    My bibliography compliant coding
  • Grey coding is for articles that were accepted for publication prior to April 7, 2008 and are not covered by the NIH Public Access Policy. These citations will be marked as N/A for Not Applicable (this status is also automatically applied to citation types that are not journal articles, e.g., book chapters, patents, presentations).

My bibliography grey coding

To check on the status of any non-compliant or not defined citation, click on the "Edit Status" link.  A compliance wizard will pop up to walk you through the process.  The following questions can help determine if the article is eligible under the Policy.  Yes to any question other than the first, means that the citation does not need to be submitted under NIH Public Access :

  • Was the publication peer-reviewed?
  • Was the publication accepted for publication before April 7, 2008? 
  • Was the publication written in a script other than Latin (e.g. Russian, Japanese)? 
  • Was the publication not directly supported by NIH funds active in FY08 or beyond?

You can add or delete funding awards associated with articles by clicking on the “+add award button.” 

My bibliography add award button

An award list associated with the My Bibliography username will pop-up.  This list can also be searched by grant number, award title, or grantee name.

My bibliography awards list

Terms and definitions

A database of citations and abstracts for biomedical literature from MEDLINE and additional life science journals. Links are provided when full text versions of the articles are available via PubMed Central (described below) or other websites. These citations are indexed with a PMID, a series of numbers.
PubMed Central (PMC) is the NIH digital archive of full-text, peer-reviewed journal papers. These papers are indexed with a PMCID, a series of numbers preceded by ‘PMC.’ PMC content is publicly accessible and integrated with other databases. See
The unique number assigned to a PubMed citation for an article published in a journal. This number does NOT indicate compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy.
The reference number assigned to an article or manuscript archived in PubMed Central. The PMCID is the number that must be cited on applications, proposals or reports as part of compliance with the Public Access Policy.
The NIH Manuscript Submission (NIHMS) System is used to submit manuscripts that arise from NIH funding to the PubMed Central digital archive, in accordance with the NIH Public Access Policy and the law it implements. The law and Public Access Policy are intended to ensure that the public has access to the published results of NIH-funded research.
The unique number assigned to a submission via the NIHMS system. The NIHMSID is used in citations until a PubMed Central ID (PMCID) is assigned. NIHMSIDs are valid only for three months after publication of the article. If no PMCID has been assigned at that time the publication becomes non-compliant with the NIH Public Access Policy.
A form of objective review. It is an assessment of scientific or technical merit of manuscripts by individuals with knowledge and expertise equivalent (peer) to that of the individuals whose manuscripts they are reviewing; that is, reviewers who are the professional equals of the authors and who often are engaged or were previously engaged in comparable activities.
Author’s final peer-reviewed manuscript
The author’s final manuscript of a peer-reviewed article accepted for journal publication, including all modifications from the peer review process (not the article as printed in a scientific journal, for which the journal holds the copyright).
Final Published Article
The journal’s authoritative copy of the article, including all modifications from the publishing peer review process, copyediting and stylistic edits, and formatting changes.
PMC Journal
A journal that deposits all NIH-funded final published articles in PMC without author involvement (contracted with NIH) or a journal that will make arrangements with an author to deposit a specific final published article in PMC (may involve a fee). These journals fall under Methods A and B when discussing how a paper is deposited to PMC and authors can use the phrase “PMC Journal – In Progress” at the end of a citation until a PMCID has been assigned.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) is part of the National Library of Medicine (NLM), a branch of the National Institutes of Health.
My NCBI Account
An NCBI account is necessary to be able to use the MyNCBI and My Bibliography tools that are housed in NCBI. While a researcher may use the account for other scientific tasks, the use of the account for our purposes is strictly to be able to track compliance with the NIH Public Access policy and to prepare RPPRs. For this purpose an account is obtained and used by logging in with your eRA Commons UserName and password. It is essential that your NCBI account be linked to your eRA Commons login.
A tool integrated with PubMed to track literature searches, collections of citations, and public access compliance. Key features: Can be linked to eRA Commons accounts; commons-linked users can associate publications with NIH grants; tracks NIH Public Access compliance; the only way to enter publications into RPPR; creates the publications section (Section E) of PHS 2590s.
My Bibliography
My Bibliography is a reference tool that helps you save your citations (journal articles, books/chapters, patents, presentations and meetings) directly from PubMed or, if not found there, to manually enter citations using My Bibliography templates or upload via .ris formated files. My Bibliography provides a centralized place where citations are easily accessed, exported as a file, and made public to share with others.
A feature of interest to eRA Commons users, Award View, allows users to see whether their publications comply with the NIH Public Access Policy, to start the compliance process for journal articles, and to associate their publications to awards.
A person receiving permission to access another person’s My Bibliography.
eRA Commons
A secure meeting place on the Web where research organizations and grantees electronically receive and transmit information about the administration of biomedical and behavioral research grants. Registration is required. At this site applicants access the status of their applications and grantees access the status of their awards, submit reports and make requests electronically.
eRA Commons Account/UserName/Password
UserName (not case sensitive) is unique to an individual and affiliates that individual to one or more institution(s). Once assigned the user creates a password (case sensitive) and uses the UserName and password to log into the eRA Commons to perform a variety of tasks. To be able to work with NIH RPPRs and My NCBI/My Bibliography an eRA Commons UserName/Password is necessary.
Progress Report
A periodic, usually annual, report submitted by the grantee and used by NIH to assess progress and, except for the final progress report of a project period, to determine whether to provide funding for the budget period subsequent to that covered by the report. This report may also be called the non-competing continuation progress report. The federal-wide research performance progress report (RPPR) is now used by NIH and includes some standard sections used by all federal agencies as well as some customized sections (e.g., use of MyNCBI/My Bibliography to cite publications resulting from the award).

Additional resources

Additional Resources

Powerpoint presentations, videos, handouts and FAQs on the Public Access Policy

Health Statistics and Data Sources

Researcher Support Services

Writing Guides, Style Manuals and the Publication Process in the Biological and Health Sciences

Last Updated: Mar 16, 2024 1:30 PM