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NIH Public Access Policy

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The following resources provide additional guidance and assistance on how to submit your papers.

Research Informationist

Bethany Myers's picture
Bethany Myers
12-077 Center for Health Sciences

Manuscript Submission Methods

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. See NIH's Submission Methods table to see which method works best for you.

Method A: Publish in a journal that deposits all final published articles in PubMed Central (PMC) without author involvement.

Some journals automatically deposit all NIH-funded final published articles in PubMed Central, to be made publicly available within 12 months of publication, without author involvement. If your journal is on this list they will complete a submission to PubMed Center on your behalf.

Method B: Make arrangements to have the publisher deposit a specific final published article in PubMed Central.

Some publishers will deposit an individual final published article in PubMed Central, generally for a fee. If you have paid an open access fee, check this page to see if your publisher has an agreement with PMC to deposit open access articles, and contact your publisher for more information.

Method C: Deposit the final peer-reviewed manuscript in PubMed Central yourself via the NIH Manuscript Submission System (NIHMS).

Submitting a final peer-reviewed manuscript to PubMed Central (PMC) via the NIHMS involves three tasks, as explained below. Task 1 may be done by an author or by someone in the author’s organization (e.g., an assistant). Tasks 2 and 3 must by done by the author.

See Steps For Completing Method C below for the online submission process.

Method D: Complete the submission process for a final peer-reviewed manuscript that the publisher has deposited in the NIH Manuscript Submission System (NIHMS).

In a variation of Method C, some publishers deposit the manuscript files in the NIHMS, provide contact information for a corresponding author, and designate when the paper may be made publicly available in PMC. Look for a checkbox or opt-in agreement for this service when submitting your article to the journal.

The NIHMS will notify the author when the manuscript files are received from the publisher.  At that point, the author must complete all of the tasks outlined for Method C, except for the file deposit part of Task 1 above. If the author 

For further details, see the NIHMS submission tutorial.

Steps for Completing Method C (Online Submission Process)

Submission tutorials are available at the NIHMS website.

  • Task 1: Deposit Manuscript Files and Link to NIH Funding
    • Upload a copy of the accepted final peer-reviewed manuscript and associated files (e.g., Microsoft Word document and figures) via the NIHMS. At the same time, identify the NIH funding associated with the manuscript. It usually takes less than 10 minutes to complete this task.
  • Task 2: Authorize NIH to Process the Manuscript
    • The author designates the number of months after publication when the manuscript may be made publicly available in PMC (not more than 12 months to be compliant with the Public Access Policy). The author then confirms, via the NIHMS, a statement that the deposit of the manuscript is consistent with any publication and copyright agreements, and that NIH may begin processing the manuscript for use in PMC.
  • Task 3: Approve the PMC-formatted Manuscript for Public Display
    • The NIHMS will convert the deposited files into a standard PMC format, and email the author to approve the PMC-formatted manuscript for public display. The author then reviews and approves the PMC-formatted manuscript via the NIHMS. Corrections to the manuscript, if necessary, may be requested at this time. 
  • Following completion of Task 3:
    • The NIHMS will email the author and all PIs the citation with the PMCID once it is assigned;
    • PMC will automatically make the paper publicly available after the designated delay period has expired.