University Libraries

NIH Open Access Policy

Quick fact

Submitting a manuscript to PubMed Central usually takes 3-10 minutes.
(from the NIH Office of Extramural Research)

Update: On February 22, 2013, the White House announced a new public access policy requiring public access to the published results of research from many more federal funding agencies. The Libraries will be providing more information as the separate agencies' policies develop, but you can contact for information right now.

On January 11, 2007 the National Institutes of Health announced its Revised Policy on Enhancing Public Access to Archived Publications Resulting from NIH-Funded Research, placing a new reporting requirement on NIH-funded researchers taking effect on April 7, 2008. All final, peer-reviewed manuscripts of articles arising from NIH-funded research which were accepted for publication on or after April 7th, 2008 must be submitted to PubMed Central, NIH's digital archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature, where they will be freely accessible to all so that they might better advance science and improve health.

There are three components to the requirement: retaining key rights, depositing your article to NIH, and citing your article.

Note: In February 2009, the University began receiving reminder notices from NIH when grant progress reports or applications list publications that do not appear to be in compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy. These notices currently offer the University an opportunity to respond and, if necessary, to correct the problem before NIH takes adverse action (such as denying a grant application or suspending or terminating an award). If you receive such a notice, it is critical that you take immediate action. If you need help submitting a publication to NIH PubMed Central or need to consult with a staff member about how to work with your journal to allow this submission, please contact Questions about adherence to grant terms and conditions should be referred to your SPA Grant Administrator

Am I affected?

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

  1. Directly funded by NIH grant or cooperative agreement active in Fiscal Year 2008 (October 1, 2007-September 30, 2008) or beyond;
  2. Directly funded by a contract signed on or after April 7, 2008;
  3. Directly funded by the NIH Intramural Program; or
  4. If NIH pays your salary.

What key 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), but there are many others whose 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, or depositing to the University Digital Conservancy. The University's copyright policy encourages broadest possible access to your work. The University of Minnesota has endorsed an author's addendum [PDF] that you can attach to the journal publisher agreement.

If you are not certain of your publisher's policies, you may contact them directly or ask the Libraries for assistance.

How do I deposit my article to NIH?

As mentioned above, you may not need to deposit anything yourself—many publishers will do this on your behalf. If you publish in one of these journals, you are considered to have fully complied with the policy.

Some other publishers—while not participating in the automatic submission of all their articles—will submit your manuscripts for you. In this case you will be prompted to log in to the submission system to review and release a copy of your work to PubMed Central. If you are not certain if your publisher does this, contact them directly or ask the Libraries for help.

If you do not publish in one of these journals, then you must 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), author names, 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.

How do I cite my article?

Beginning 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 (NIHMS ID) 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 subaward 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. If a PubMed Central reference number is not yet available, include the NIH Manuscript Submission system reference number (NIHMS ID) instead.


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 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 track my compliance?

You can use the "My Bibliography" tool in MyNCBI to help you manage your professional bibliography and ensure you are fully complying with the NIH Public Access Mandate. As of July 23rd, 2010, PIs/PDs will no longer be able to enter citations in their person profile in eRA Commons and will intead need to use the "My Bibliography" tool in MyNCBI. A step-by-step guide on how to set up an account, link it to your eRA Commons username, associate citations with particular awards, and then use the tool to monitor compliance of your various pulications can be found here:

How is the University of Minnesota planning to help?

The University Libraries and Sponsored Projects Administration (SPA) are prepared to help. Questions about the policy can be sent to We can help you ensure you have the necessary rights, guide you through the submission process, and help you understand how to cite your articles in future applications and progress reports.

To assist faculty in complying with this requirement, SPA will remind investigators of this requirement on the Notice of Grant Award (NOGA). The text of the notice reads as follows:

Peer-reviewed articles must be submitted to NIH Pubmed Central (PMC) upon acceptance for publication and made publically available within 12 months. Cite PMC ID number in progress reports/proposals. SPA will add the new NIH requirement to the terms and conditions of its NIH-funded subawards when these are issued or modified.


NIH Guide Notice for Public Access
The policy itself.
NIH Public Access
Contains an FAQ and may provide answers to any specific questions you have.
Letter from U-MN OVPR and U Libraries to PIs
Letter from U-MN OVPR to Publishers
Outlines the policies of many of the publishers likely to be affected by the NIH Public Access Policy. Search by the title of the journal to which you would like to submit. If the information you're looking for isn't there, you'll need to contact the Libraries for help, consult the author agreement itself, or speak directly with the publisher.
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