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NIH Public Access Policy

General Information

The NIH Public Access Policy requires scientists to submit final peer-reviewed manuscripts that arise from NIH funds to PubMed Central (PMC) upon acceptance for publication.  A manuscript must be made publicly available no later than 12 months after the official date of publication. This policy applies to any peer-reviewed journal articles arising from NIH funding accepted for publication on or after April 7, 2008.

The NIH has released comprehensive guidance on this policy including answers to Frequently Asked Questions.

New NIHMS system released January 23, 2020

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) released a new NIH Manuscript Submission (NIHMS) system on January 23, 2020.  Improvements include: a "My Manuscripts" menu that allows researchers to more easily see the progress of submissions; submission progress graphic for individual deposits; ability to easily import information describing the manuscript from PubMed, DOIs or My Bibliography; ability for reviewers to more easily preview PMC-ready manuscripts in Web and PDF views; and a "walkthrough" pop-up window now automatically guides users during the first use of the new system (for subsequent uses, users must select the walkthough icon for step-by-step help).  New step-by-step tutorials are available.Steps in the NIHMS deposit process


This 4 1/2 minute video reviews the improvements to the NIHMS system that make it easier to use. 

Basic Steps

1. Manuscript is accepted for publication (yay!)

  • Confirm your journal's NIH compliance procedure.
  • Ensure that the conditions of the NIH policy can be met BEFORE signing a transfer of copyright agreement.

2. Manuscript is submitted to PubMed Central

3. Authors track and manage their compliance using NCBI's My Bibliography

4. Authors cite PMCID in progress reports, applications, and proposals. 

Quick Reference and FAQs

Librarians at the Lamar Soutter Library have put together a one-page quick reference sheet with links to the policy, NIH procedures, and additional resources for compliance. A complementary presentation is available for download or online.  

In addition, the NIH has produced a list of relevant FAQs.

Four Paths to Compliance

There are four pathways, or methods, that a manuscript can take to get to PubMed Central.

Method A: Journal publishers will deposit the manuscript to PubMed Central on behalf of authors and the author has not action to take. To determine if your publisher is a Method A publisher, search this list of journals. 

Method B: Journal publishers will deposit author manuscripts to PubMed Central upon special arrangement with the submitting authors. "Special arrangement" usually means a substantial Open Access fee. Note that this is not the only way to submit a manuscript to PubMed Central, even if it is the only method offered by your publisher!

Method C: The author submits their manuscript directly to the NIH Manuscript Submission system and approves it for posting to PubMed Central.

Method D: Journal publishers will deposit the manuscript to the NIH Manuscript Submission system on behalf of authors and the author must then approve the version prepared for PubMed Central. 

PubMed and PubMed Central are Different!


PubMed is a searchable literature database, indexing thousands of biomedical and life science journals. It includes title, author, and abstract information for millions of citations and links to the article. Identifiers assigned by PubMed are PMIDs. PubMed does not include full text of articles. 

PubMed Central (PMC) is a digital repository of full text journal articles and the destination for all NIH-funded journal manuscripts. Identifiers assigned by PMC are PMCIDs; these are the IDs that should be used in reporting and applications to demonstrate compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy. 

Publisher Policies

These links take you to information on the major scientific publishers' websites regarding their policies on the NIH Public Access Mandate.


Since 2013, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has been enforcing its policy requiring investigators deposit copies of their papers in a public archive. Funds will be withheld from researchers who do not comply with the Public Access Policy. 

Read NIH formal policy announcement

Get Download Stats!

Authors can now access download counts from PubMed Central. Statistics are available for any paper that an author is associated with in the NIH Manuscript Submission System (NIHMS). It's as easy as 1, 2, 3. 

  1. Login to NIHMS
  2. Click to the "Available in PMC" tab
  3. In the status column, click "PMC Access Statistics"

These statistics reflect PMC usage only and do not include access counts from any other site. Read more about PMC statistics available in NIHMS

Contacting NIH

NCBI Help Desk answers questions about My NCBI and My Bibliography.  Be sure to include the full citation, eRA Commons user name, and NCBI user name if needed. 

NIHMS Help Desk answers questions about manuscript submissions to the NIH Manuscript Submission System.

eRA Service Desk answers questions about eRA Commons and submitting progress reports (RPPRs). They can also be reached by phone Monday-Friday 7 am-8 pm Eastern at 1-866-504-9552 (toll free) or 301-402-7469. Press 1 for eRA Commons or ASSIST.