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NIH Public Access Policy

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

Q: Who is responsible for making sure a paper gets a PMCID number?

A: Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the principal investigator of the grant to make sure that all publications linked to the grant are compliant with the NIH policy and are assigned a PMCID.

Q: Doesn’t every paper get a PMCID? Is that different from a PMID?

A: Many people are still not sure where PMCIDs come from. Every paper does not get a PMCID automatically, even if it is associated with a grant.

  • PMID is the PubMed ID. Every paper that is listed in the PubMed database is given a PMID. This is simply an identification number for the paper in PubMed.
  • PMCID is the PubMed Central ID. This identifier is given to a paper when its full text version is deposited to PubMed Central (PMC), the NIH’s database of full text manuscripts.

Q: But I acknowledged my grant in the acknowledgements section of my paper. Shouldn’t this mean that it will be added automatically to PubMed Central by my publisher?

A: No. Publishers are not required to add your papers to PMC. Publishers will not take the information from the acknowledgements and automatically deposit the manuscript for you. Some journals do deposit all of their content automatically to PMC, regardless of funding. If you publish in one of these journals (called “PMC journals ”), your manuscript will be deposited and will receive a PMCID automatically.

The NIH has a searchable list of PMC journals you can check to see if your chosen journal deposits all content to PMC.Use the link below to search that list.

Most journals do not deposit to PMC, so you will need to take responsibility for having the manuscript deposited to PMC through the NIH Manuscript Submission system (NIHMS).

Some other publishers will start this process for you by depositing the manuscript to NIHMS, but they will only do this if you tell them at the time you sign the author agreement for publication. You must tell them of your NIH funding and provide them with the appropriate grant numbers on your author agreement letter. If you do not supply this information at the time of manuscript submission, most publishers will NOT deposit the manuscript to NIHMS for you.

Q: I just checked, and my journal does not deposit to PMC directly. How do I deposit to NIHMS?

A: Make sure you have a copy of the “post-print” of the manuscript. The post-print is your final draft of the accepted, peer-reviewed manuscript with all of the changes and edits made, but before the journal’s formatting is applied. It is violation of most publishers' copyright to upload the final publisher-formatted PDF to any repository, including PMC, so we recommend that you do not do this.

You must include all figures, tables and supplemental information--basically everything that the published version includes.

The format of the files can be Word documents and separate figures and tables, or a Word file with figures and tables included in a single document, or PDF documents. Many file types are accepted by the NIHMS.

Q: But I can’t find the authors' version of the manuscript! Can’t I just deposit the publisher’s PDF to NIHMS?

A: The NIH recommends against depositing the journal’s copyrighted version of the manuscript to NIHMS. You need to check the journal’s copyright and author permissions to see which version you can deposit to NIHMS or another repository.

Alternately, you can check the SHERPA-RoMEO  database for your journal’s policies regarding archiving. When you have the manuscript ready, you (or someone acting on your behalf) can log into the NIHMS system to deposit the manuscript. For details on navigating NIHMS and what actions you must take after depositing there, please refer to the NIHMS help documentation at the NIH.

Q: I have a progress report due and some of my manuscripts are not compliant (don’t have PMCID numbers). Can I just leave them out of the RPPR?

A: If your grant funded the work in the paper, you should not omit papers from your progress report just because they are non-compliant. However, if you include non-compliant publications on an NIH progress report (RPPR), the NIH will withhold funds for the coming year until the compliance issues are addressed. For this reason, we recommend that you address compliance of each and every publication that arises from your grant at the time it is accepted for publication. This will give you time to bring your manuscripts into compliance before your progress report is due.

Q: I feel this is too complicated and overwhelming. How can I manage all of this?

A: Deal with compliance early. Make it part of your normal work flow. Check the compliance status of your papers at least quarterly (weekly is better). Make sure you get and keep a copy of the post-review final draft of every paper linked to your grant(s).

Publisher copyright allowing, consider depositing this post-print in Galter Library’s repository . That way we have a copy we can use in assisting you with deposit to NIHMS.

Make sure that all of your trainees and co-authors know about the policy’s requirements and their own responsibilities.