NIH - FAQs

For more information see NIH's Public Access FAQ



Am I affected?

The policy applies to you if your peer-reviewed journal manuscript is based on work that is:

  • Directly funded by NIH grant or cooperative agreement active (as opposed to awarded) in Fiscal Year 2008 (October 1, 2007-September 30, 2008) or later;
  • Directly funded by a contract signed on or after April 7, 2008;
  • Directly funded by the NIH Intramural Program; or
  • If NIH pays your salary.


What happens if I don't comply?

The NIH's Public Access FAQ states that, although failure to comply won't be a factor in the evaluation of applications, it "may delay or prevent awarding of funds."


How do I deposit my paper with the NIH?

Submit—or designate someone to submit—your final, peer-reviewed manuscript upon acceptance for publication. Log in to the NIH Manuscript Submission System. You will need your grant number(s), PI's name and email address, a copy of the final, peer-reviewed manuscript, and any supporting figures, tables, and data that were submitted to the publisher. NIH provides some very good tutorials to guide you through the process. Only the PI can complete the submission process by approving the submitted files. The PI must also later approve the manuscript after it has been formatted for PubMed Central.


Will some journals submit the final manuscript to the NIH for me?

There is an extensive list of journals that submit final published articles to PubMed Central. Authors who submit articles to these journals need do nothing further to comply with the NIH policy. In contrast some publishers offer to submit the final peer-reviewed manuscript for you, sometimes for a fee. You will still need to submit your grant number(s).


When and how will we be notified that we have complied with the new law?

The PI receives an email with a link to the PMC-formatted manuscript for his or her final approval. The PI complies upon giving this approval, and will likely receive no further notification.


What role does the PI have in this process if they did not author the article?

The NIH holds the PI responsible for meeting the requirements of the law. The authors can submit the manuscript, but the NIH requires final approval of it from the PI.


What are the benefits of having my manuscript in PubMed Central?

  • Fulfills the NIH requirement of article submission
  • Provides public access to your work
  • Enhances visibility of your work—which may increase citations
  • Provides a stable and centralized archive
  • Eases sharing of your work with students, teachers, and researchers
  • Allows your work to be fully integrated with other NCBI databases such as PubMed, GenBank, PubChem, Clinical Trials, and others

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How can I tell what my publisher's standard copyright transfer agreement allows?

SHERPA/RoMEO is a database that summarizes publishers' standard copyright rules. One of the factors tracked is NIH Compliance. It is searchable by publisher or journal. NOTE: There will necessarily be a delay in updating this site when publishers change their standard agreements, which is likely to happen in response to the NIH policy. Always read the agreement before signing.


What rights do I need to retain?

When selecting a journal for your article, and before signing away any rights, you must ensure that the publisher's agreement will allow you to comply with the NIH Public Access Policy. Many publishers will go so far as to submit your articles for you (NIH maintains a list of journals that automatically submit articles to PubMed Central). The standard copyright transfer agreement of several publishers allows for NIH compliance without modification. However, some publishers current agreements implicitly prohibit submission to PubMed Central and other similar depositories. If the agreement transfers copyright to the publisher, and it does not specifically allow for submission to PubMed Central or other similar depositories, then the author does not retain that right. In these cases, the NIH suggests adding the following language to the contract:


"Journal acknowledges that Author retains the right to provide a copy of the final manuscript to the NIH upon acceptance for Journal publication, for public archiving in PubMed Central as soon as possible but no later than 12 months after publication by Journal."

You may also use this opportunity to retain additional rights for your work including use in your teaching, posting on your personal website, etc. [More info]


If you are not certain of your publisher's policies, you may contact them directly or visit the SHERPA/RoMEO site which summarizes permissions provided by standard publisher agreements.


What does "embargo period" mean?

"Embargo period" refers to a delay, if any, of up to 12 months following publication until full text is made available on PubMed Central. This is set by the publisher and would be included in the copyright transfer agreement or an addendum to same. The NIH Manuscript Submission System will track the publication date and the submitted embargo period for you and will transfer the files to PubMed Central.


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How do I cite my article in communications with the NIH?

As of May 25, 2008, anyone submitting an application or progress report to the NIH must include the PubMed Central reference number (PMCID) or NIH Manuscript Submission reference number (NIHMSID) when citing applicable articles that arise in whole or in part from their NIH-funded research. This policy includes applications submitted to the NIH for the May 25, 2008 due date and subsequent due dates. The requirement applies both to funding received directly from NIH and NIH funding received via a sub award from another institution or entity.

List the PubMed Central reference number (PMCID) at the end of the already-required full journal citation for the article.

Examples:

Varmus H, Klausner R, Zerhouni E, Acharya T, Daar A, Singer P. (2003) Public Health: Grand Challenges in Global Health. Science 302(5644), 398–399. PMCID: 243493

Zerhouni, EA. (2003) A New Vision for the National Institutes of Health. Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology (3), 159–160. PMCID: 400215

What do I do if the PMCID has not been assigned yet?

If a manuscript was submitted through the NIH Manuscript Submission System (NIHMS) and a PubMed Central reference number is not yet available, include the NIH Manuscript Submission System reference number (NIHMSID) instead. This number was assigned during the submission process.

Example, before PMCID is available:

Cerrato, A., et al., Genetic interactions between Drosophila melanogaster menin and Jun/Fos. Dev Biol. 2006 Oct 1; 298(1): 59-70. NIHMSID: NIHMS44135


If you publish in a journal that submits the final published paper to PubMed Central, you won't need to use the NIHMS system and thus won't have an NIHMSID. Until a PMCID is assigned, please indicate compliance with the policy by indicating “PMC Journal - In Process”.

Example, before PMCID is available:

Sala-Torra, O., et al., Connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) expression and outcome in adult patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Blood. 2007 April 1; 109(7): 3080–3083.
PMCID: PMC Journal - In Process

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What is PubMed vs PubMed Central?

  • PubMed is an index or finding tool. It contains about 18 million citations. Medical Subject Headings are applied to make finding relevant articles easier. Searching is free to anyone with an Internet connection. It contains no full text but sometimes provides links to full text.
  • PubMed Centralis an archive or national repository. It has more than a million full text articles. Articles are available at no cost to anyone with an Internet connection.

What is Final Manuscript vs. Final Article?

  • Final Peer-Reviewed Manuscript is the investigator's final manuscript of a peer-reviewed article accepted for journal publication, including all modifications made by the author from the peer review process.
  • Final Published Article is the journal's authoritative copy of the article, including all modifications from the publishing peer review process, copyediting and stylistic edits, and formatting charges.

Does the NIH want both the final manuscript and a PDF of the published article?

No. Submit the final peer-reviewed manuscript only. The author typically does not have any rights to the final version of the article, which is usually under the control of the publisher.


Am I required to submit book chapters?

No. The Policy applies only to all peer-reviewed journal manuscripts. The Policy does not apply to non-peer-reviewed materials such as correspondence, book chapters, and editorials.


Do European journals know about this policy?

Yes, many do. The Wellcome Trust, a private funding agency located in the UK, has a similar policy and also uses PubMed Central as its archive. Some examples of British journals that automatically submit to PMC are: EMBO Journal and EMBO Reports, published by Nature Publishing Group. It is a good idea to check the entry of the journal and/or publisher with which you plan to publish in SHERP/RoMEO.


How will Marquette help me?

Questions about the policy can be sent to Rosemary.DelToro@marquette.edu. We can help you understand how to cite your articles in future applications and progress reports.


What about other funders?

SHERPA/JULIET is a database that tracks funders' policies and conditions regarding access and archiving of research results arising from their awards.