NIH Public Access Policy Support

What does the policy require?
To what papers does it apply?
To what papers does it not apply?

What do I do for publications accepted on or since 4/7/08?

Who can help me through this process?
How do I ensure the copyright agreement with my publisher will allow me to submit to PubMed Central?
Helpful sites


What does the policy require?

It requires scientists to submit final peer-reviewed journal manuscripts that arise from NIH funds to the digital archive PubMed Central. The Policy requires that these papers are accessible to the public on PubMed Central no later than 12 months after publication.


To what papers does it apply?

The Policy applies to any manuscript that:

  1. Is peer-reviewed;
  2. And, is accepted for publication in a journal on or after April 7, 2008;
  3. And, arises from:
    • Any direct funding from an NIH grant or cooperative agreement active in Fiscal Year 2008, or;
    • Any direct funding from an NIH contract signed on or after April 7, 2008, or;
    • Any direct funding from the NIH Intramural Program, or;
    • An NIH employee.

To what papers does it not apply?

The Policy does not apply to non-peer-reviewed materials such as correspondence, book chapters, and editorials.

It does not apply to peer-reviewed manuscripts accepted before April 7, 2008. However, authors may submit final peer-reviewed manuscripts accepted before April 7, 2008 that arise from NIH funds, if they have appropriate copyright permission.

What should you do for articles already accepted for publication on or since 4/7/08?

Ask yourself:

  1. Does the NIH Public Access Policy apply to your article? Check the criteria above.
  2. Does the journal where it was accepted for publication automatically submit to PubMed Central on your behalf?  Not sure? Check this list.  (Please note that most social science journals do not automatically submit.) If the journal submits your article, you still have to provide the associated award information, and review and approve the final peer-reviewed manuscript.  The NIHMS will notify you via email when these actions are needed and include a link to the NIHMS web site.

If the article must be submitted, you can:

▪ Deposit the final peer-reviewed manuscript in PubMed Central yourself via the NIH Manuscript Submission System (NIHMS).  There are 3 tasks, the first of which can be undertaken by someone other than the author.

Task 1: Deposit Manuscript Files and Link to NIH Funding (less than 10 minutes)
Task 2: Authorize NIH to Process the Manuscript
Task 3: Approve the PMC-formatted Manuscript for Public Display

▪ Make arrangements to have the publisher deposit a specific final published article in PubMed Central: A fee is likely to be involved. 

Who can help me through this process?

CPRC staff can

  • complete first step of submission process for papers accepted for publication between 4/7/08 and 12/31/08 on behalf of CPRC Faculty (contact M.K. Babcock)
  • answer submission-related questions or facilitate getting the answers you need

The following offices at Columbia can help you comply with the NIH Public Access Policy:

How can I ensure my copyright agreement allows me to submit to PubMed Central?

If you receive NIH funding and prepare an article for publication, you should:

  • When submitting an article, notify the publisher that it is subject to the NIH Public Access Policy. In the cover letter of submission to a journal, you should include a statement such as the following: "This article is based on funding from the National Institutes of Health and therefore is subject to the NIH Public Access Policy. Acceptance of this article for publication will be conditioned on the journal publisher's agreement to terms permitting compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy." If you are submitting your article electronically, you may include the same statement and provide a link to this Web site:
  • When an article is accepted, ensure that the publication agreement reserves to you the right to send the manuscript to PubMed Central. You should not sign any publication agreement related to articles or other publications resulting from NIH funding unless you are certain that the agreement complies with the NIH policy. (The same advice applies to electronic click-through agreements that may be part of the journal's manuscript submission system.) In order to make that process easier for you and for the publisher, Columbia University has prepared two versions of an Amendment to be added to a publication agreement that you may attach to your publication agreement:

"Publisher License for NIH Compliance" focuses relatively simply on granting to you the rights necessary to comply with the NIH policy.

"Publication Agreement Amendment for NIH Compliance and Educational Uses" would, in addition, allow you to retain rights to make common uses of your publication in connection with your own scholarship and research. The added language in this version is optional, but you may find it important for your future uses of the article.

Once your copyright agreement is in place,

  • When published, make sure the final manuscript is submitted to PubMed Central.
  • Upon your next submission to NIH, include in the application the identification number (called a "PMCID") for your previous NIH articles, demonstrating your compliance with the Public Access Policy.


Helpful Sites and Documents




NIH Public Access Policy Details

Policy FAQ

CU site on NIH Public Access Policy

Where to submit your articles

Submission FAQ

Submission Tutorial

Searchable site for a summary of permissions normally given as part of each publisher's copyright transfer agreement