NIH Public Access Policy

NIH's Public Access Policy is effective April 7, 2008. Under a new federal law, NIH is now requiring that the author's final version of any peer-reviewed journal article resulting from NIH-funded activities MUST be submitted to the PubMed Central (PMC) repository, where it will be made available to the public within 12 months after the journal article is published

Compliance with the NIH policy

Compliance involves three main areas: (1) Address copyright, (2) Submission of your manuscript to NIH, and (3) Citing PMCID reference numbers in subsequent grant reports and proposals.

Address Copyright

You own the original copyrights to materials you write. When a journal agrees to publish your manuscript, publishers ask you to transfer your copyrights to the publisher. Some publishers may ask you to transfer your copyrights when it is first submitted to a journal for review.

UM authors should work with the publisher before any rights are transferred to ensure that all conditions of the NIH Public Access Policy can be met. Authors should avoid signing any agreements with publishers that do not allow the author to comply with the NIH Public Access Policy. 

Some publishers already address this NIH policy by filing the final finished article on your behalf.  For these journals, you do not need to do anything to fulfill the submission requirement of the NIH Public Access Policy. See for a list of these journals.

If you are not publishing in one of the journals on this list, you must ensure that agreements with your publisher permit the submission of your manuscript to NIH.  Resources available from the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs include:

  • A letter that you should submit with your manuscript alerting the publisher to the fact that the manuscript is subject to the NIH policy and UM expects them to comply with the policy.
  • Suggested wording that you can add to a publisher’s agreement to ensure that you can fulfill the NIH policy.
  • You can also review your contract language with UM's Associate Legal Counsel.

Submission of your manuscript to NIH

For peer-reviewed manuscripts accepted for publication on or after April 7, 2008, UM authors must submit the final version of the manuscript, and accompanying files, to the NIH Manuscript Submission System (NIHMS).

  • The NIMHS system is very easy to use.
  • Submission can be done by the author or a third party in their lab or department.
  • Some publishers will submit manuscripts for authors.  See the NIH Website for a list.
  • Some publishers are charging fees to do this for you.  In those instances you can avoid paying the fee by submitting the manuscript to PubMed Central yourself.  The NIH submission process is simple and easy.  Paying the publisher is NOT necessary.

Citing PubMed Central Reference Numbers

When your manuscript is submitted to NIH you will receive a NIHMS ID number, and once it is available in PubMed Central, it will be assigned a PMC ID number.

Effective May 25, 2008, you will need to cite the PMC ID or NIHMS ID numbers for any articles you cite in your progress reports, new applications, and renewals.  These are only needed for articles accepted for publication on or after April 7, 2008, but you may include PMC ID numbers for articles already in PubMed Central as well.


PDF VP Dwyer's letter of March 21, 2008 Word DOC Suggested Cover Letter for Author Journal Submission

NIH Public Access Policy FAQ
Journals that systematically submit articles to PubMed Central
Tutorial on the NIHMS System
Assistance available through UM's Mansfield Library; primary contact: Kim Granath, 243-6017