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NIH Public Access Policy Help Guide

Explains the NIH Public Access Policy, the process for submitting peer reviewed articles to PubMed Central and using myNCBI to verify compliance.

Using this Guide

The steps below outline the general process for complying with the NIH Public Access Policy. You can download these steps as a 1-page pdf checklist. The rest of the pages in this guide offer more information on the various components of compliance.

Step 1: Prepare Manuscript

Set aside some time to manage your compliance with NIH's Public Access Policy.

  1. Familiarize yourself with the publisher you are targeting to see how much help they are willing to give with complying with the NIH Public Access Policy.
  2. Designate someone (PI, author, staff member) to ensure that the manuscript moves along in the process to deposit in PubMed Central.  Ultimately, the PI is responsible.
  3. If you are an author but not the PI, notify PI that you are working on a manuscript so s/he can plan to follow its progress.  
  4. Create a My NCBI account.   Link it to your eRA Commons account.

Step 2: Establish Agreement with Publisher

  1. Communicate your need to comply with NIH's Public Access Policy.
  2. Understand who will be responsible for submitting the manuscript to the NIH Manuscript Submission system (NIHMS).  Methods A, B, and D (publisher submits manuscript). Method C (author or designate submits).

Step 3: Submit and Monitor Manuscript

  1. Regardless of which submission method is used, take the time to ensure that the submission has occurred.
  2. NIHMS Submission Steps
  3. Approve NIHMS submissions when requested.  Initial submission approval and approval to display in PubMed Central once formatting is complete.
  4. Use My Bibliography to link publications to Awards and to monitor compliance.
  5. There is a designated Compliance Monitor in the Office of Sponsored Research who can monitor at the institution level.

Step 4: Use PMCID Number

  1. Use the NIHMSID number or the notation "PMC Journal - In Process" for up to 3 months after the article is published.
  2. Use PMCID number when it's available.  PMCID/NIHMSID numbers, along with PMID, will appear in My Bibliography.  You can also find corresponding PMCID/NIHMSID based on PMID using the PMCID Converter.
  3. Use MyNCBI/My Bibliography to manage your compliance to the NIH Public Access Policy.  You may share your My Bibliography collection with a delegate to assist with managing the bibliography. [video]
  4. Use My Bibliography to generate a PDF of publications to submit with Research Performance Progress Reports.

Contact Your Librarian

Librarians can assist with questions about:

  1. locating PMCIDs and/or NIHMS IDs for submitted manuscripts;
  2. determining whether an article has already appeared in PubMed Central; or
  3. locating a journal’s general policy on NIH public access policy compliance.