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NIH Public Access Policy

Describes the NIH Public Access Policy and compliance, including the process for obtaining PMCIDs


My NCBI is the NIH's portal for managing data and collections from the various databases managed by the NIH and the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI).

Principal investigators are required to use My NCBI's My Bibliography to manage their grant+publication associations.

Managing Publications in My NCBI's "My Bibliography"

You can enter My NCBI from the link on any page in any NCBI database such as PubMed or the NCBI home page. The link is always displayed in the upper right corner of the page.


If you don't have a My NCBI account, you can log in via your Northwestern login credentials, ORCiD account, Google, or many more options. Just click on the "More login options" if you want to log in through your Northwestern credentials.

Note: you can create a single NCBI account that you can keep, even if you change institutions. Your NCBI account will follow you no matter where you are located, since it is part of the NIH's NCBI platform which is free and open source. You simply have to change your email address and affiliations if you move.

Once you have signed in, you can access My NCBI settings and your NCBI home page "Dashboard" from a menu you access by clicking the person icon in the upper right corner.


If you have an eRA Commons (NIH) account, link your eRA Commons login to My NCBI.

Note: You do NOT have to have an eRA Commons account to create a My NCBI account, or to create a My Bibliography, but you do need to have an eRA Commons account to view any grant information within your My Bibliography.

  • Log in to My NCBI
  • Click on the person icon or your NCBI user name in the upper right corner of your My NCBI page to access your NCBI Account Settings

  • In the Linked Accounts section, click on the "Change" button
  • In the "All Available Partner Accounts" section, type "NIH" to find the NIH & eRA Commons option. Click that link.

  • You will be taken to the eRA Commons login page, where you should log in with your eRA Commons username and password.  If you use to log into eRA Commons, you may be taken to the page instead of eRA Commons.
  • You will now see the NIH & eRA Commons account in your linked accounts.

Note: You can link other accounts to My NCBI, too. We recommend that you link your ORCiD account as well, so you can access your ORCiD profile when you create an NIH biosketch using SciENcv.

You can access My Bibliography from two places:

  • Log in to My NCBI
  • Click the person icon, then click Publications (My Bibliography)



  • Click the person icon, then click on Dashboard (My NCBI)

  • You will be in your My NCBI home page. You can see My Bibliography as its own section on the page
    • If you have been named a delegate for someone else's bibliography, that will also show under your My Bibliography section
  • To enter your bibliography, click on the Manage My Bibliography link under your bibliography


If you don't have any publications in your My Bibliography yet, just click on any of the buttons on the right side of the page to add citations: 

  • Add from PubMed - opens a dialog box that will search PubMed 
    • type in search terms or an author name to search
    • select the publications you wish to add
    • click the Add to My Bibliography button


If you have publications that are not listed in PubMed (including book chapters, software, conference presentations, or articles in journals not indexed in PubMed):

  • Choose the Add Manually button. Use the drop down menu in the Add Citation Manually box to select a publication type (journal article, book chapter, software, etc), then add the citation by typing all the relevant information, then click the Add Citation button at the bottom when you're done.
  • OR click the Upload a file button. Using this option, you can export a list of citations from EndNote or other citation manager (use the "RefMan (RIS)" export style in EndNote), and import that list to My Bibliography.

To see grant information and link grants to your papers, you must be logged in to your My Bibliography via eRA Commons.

Funding information is visible next to each publication in your bibliography, color coded by compliance status.

  • A darker red box with a question mark indicates that no funding has yet been attributed to the paper so its status is currently Not defined
  • A lighter red box with an exclamation point next to a publication indicates that the manuscript is subject to the laws of the NIH mandate but is not compliant
  • A blue box means that the citation has been submitted to the NIH Manuscript Submission system or has been submitted by the journal to PMC and is considered in process
  • A green box with a checkmark means the citation is compliant with the NIH Public Access Policy.  You can also see a PMCID in this view.
  • Articles that were accepted for publication prior to April 7, 2008 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)


  • Click the Add award or [x number] Awards link in any box to open the funding attribution wizard.

  • If you click on Edit Status, you have the option of indicating that a publication was not funded by NIH money and therefore not subject to the terms of the NIH Public Access Policy, click No and you are done with your compliance reporting for that manuscript

    • Otherwise, click Yes, and the wizard window will expand, allowing you to submit the manuscript to NIHMS, or indicate other arrangements or conditions

  • If you click on Add award or Add or delete award, the funding attribution wizard will show you Your Awards and Other Awards available for you to assign to manuscripts

  • Click checkboxes next to awards you wish to add to a manuscript.

    • You can also click checkboxes next to multiple citations and use the Assign Awards  button (at the top of your bibliography in the blue rectangle) to associate multiple papers to a grant

  • If you want to search for grants to assign, use the Search/Add Other Awards tab in the Assign Awards box to search for grants by grant number or investigator name

  • My NCBI will add the publications to the bibliographies of any other Principal Investigators whose awards you assign to a manuscript (if they are not already listed there)

  • Click Save when you are done with the Awards wizard

To make your My Bibliography public

You may wish to make your My Bibliography public, especially if you provide a link to it in your NIH biosketch.

  • At the top of your bibliography, there is notation on whether your bibliography is public or private.
  • If your My Bibliography is private there will be a link to "make it public". Click this link, and a URL link will be generated that you can include in your biosketch. This link will display at the top of your My Bibliography, and in the My Bibliography section of your My NCBI (Dashboard) page. You can copy / paste this link into your NIH biosketch, at the end of the Contributions to Science section.

To assign delegates to your My Bibliography

Sometimes, you might want someone else to help you manage your My Bibliography (research administrators, research assistants, etc.). You can name them as "delegates" to your My NCBI bibliography. They can add references and, if they have eRA Commons accounts, can manage grant attributions.

  • Enter the settings page for your My NCBI account by clicking your NCBI username in the upper right corner of any NCBI page OR by clicking the person icon from newer NCBI pages (eg. PubMed)
    • Note: your username is right next to "My NCBI" in the upper right corner in the older format NCBI pages. If you're not logged into My NCBI, login first, then click your username.
    • In the newer version of NCBI's interface, click the person icon, then Account settings

  • Scroll down the settings page to where you see the Delegates section and click Add a Delegate
  • Add the e-mail address of someone you would like to manage your bibliography, and click OK

    Note: Adding delegates will allow them to make additions to your bibliography and print out properly formatted bibliography reports, but they won't be able to make award-publication associations unless they sign in with their eRA Commons login.

  • The people you delegate will receive an e-mail asking them to confirm the connection
  • They will then be able to see your bibliographies under the Collections section of their own My NCBI accounts

The 2013 changes to non-competing progress reports require that investigators comply with the NIH Public Access Policy by assigning all publications to their proper grants on their progress reports. This is done through the electronic RPPR system.

Sometimes, though, you may need to create a PDF version of your My Bibliography to demonstrate compliance for publications on a previous RPPR.

To generate a PDF of your compliance from MyNCBI:

  1. Open My Bibliography
    Note: you must be signed into My NCBI via eRA Commons to access the Award view for your My Bibliography
  2. Optional: Use the filter menu to filter the publications in your bibliography by your awards, or filter by searching for an author name, year, other PI's award, etc.

  1. Click checkboxes next to publications you want to include in the progress report, or click All at the top of the page to select all of the publications resulting from your filter, search,, or all publications in your bibliography
  2. Go to the top of the page and click the Manage citations menu, then Compliance report (PDF)
  3. A pop-up box will prompt you to add the PI's first, middle and last names, and a starting page number (optional) for the report
  4. Click Download PDF button
  5. A PDF will be generated which will display the PI's name in the upper right corner of all the pages included in the report. The compliance status will be shown in the first column and the corresponding citations will be listed in the second column of the report.