Public Access Requirement

A Trainee Guide to NIH Public Access Policy

The Public Access Policy helps ensure that the results of research funded by federal dollars are available to the public.  Answers to some common questions trainees have about this requirement are below:

Do I need to submit my paper to PubMed Central?
What is PubMed Central and how is it different from PubMed?
What is a PMCID number and why do I need one?
When should I submit to PubMed Central?
My publisher requires a one-year delay before my article is publicly available.  Can I wait to submit to PubMed Central?
How do I submit my manuscript to PubMed Central?
Now that I know my submission method, how do I proceed?
How do I use the NIHMS (NIH Manuscript Submission System)?
Is there a way to track my publications where I can see their PMCID numbers?
Other resources

Do I need to submit my paper to PubMed Central? The Public Access Policy requires you to submit your paper to PubMed Central if your publication is:

  • The result of work you do while supported as a trainee
  • Peer-reviewed
  • Accepted for publication in a journal on or after April 7, 2008
  • Published in English or another language that uses the Latin Script

If your publication meets all of these criteria your manuscript should be submitted to PubMed Central upon acceptance for publication.

What is PubMed Central and how is it different from PubMed?  PubMed Central is an archive of full-text journal articles. PubMed is a catalogue of citations and abstracts.  Most publications in the biomedical disciplines are referenced in PubMed, but only those articles that are specifically submitted to PubMed Central are found there.  Therefore an article’s appearance in PubMed does not mean that it is also in PubMed Central.

What is a PMCID number and why do I need one? A PMCID or PMC Identifier is assigned by the National Library of Medicine to each full-text article in PubMed Central.  NIH requires us to report PMCID numbers for each peer-reviewed publication associated with our trainees’ work performed while funded on the training grant.  This is a way for them to verify that we are complying with the public access requirement.  If we are not able to provide a PMCID for an applicable trainee publication, this jeopardizes funding not just for the trainee in question but for all MBTG trainees.

When should I submit to PubMed Central? Manuscripts should be submitted to PubMed Central as soon as they are accepted for publication.

My publisher requires a one-year delay before my article is publicly available.  Can I wait to submit to PubMed Central? No.  Part of the submission process involves determining when the article will be made available to the public, which may be up to a year after the date of publication.  However the manuscript still needs to be submitted to the PubMed Central archives when it is accepted for publication.

How do I submit my manuscript to PubMed Central?  There are several submission methods. Which one you need to use depends on the journal that is publishing your paper.
Submission method A Journals: http://publicaccess.nih.gov/submit_process_journals.htm
Submission method B journals: https://publicaccess.nih.gov/select_deposit_publishers.htm
Submission method D journals: https://publicaccess.nih.gov/Method%20D%20Publishers
Submission method C is used with all other journals.

Now that I know my submission method, how do I proceed?
Submission method A best practices: https://publicaccess.nih.gov/method-A-BP.htm
Submission method B best practices: https://publicaccess.nih.gov/method-B-BP.htm
Submission method C and D best practices: https://publicaccess.nih.gov/Methods-C-D-BP

How do I use the NIHMS (NIH Manuscript Submission System)?
You (or one of the authors on the paper) will need to use the NIHMS if you are submitting via method C or method D. See:
Submitting papers through the NIHMS: Methods C and D Best Practices: https://publicaccess.nih.gov/Methods-C-D-BP
NIHMS Video Overview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NROwOdAieG4
NIHMS Tutorials: http://nihms.nih.gov/help/#slideshow
NIHMS FAQ: http://nihms.nih.gov/help/faq.shtml

Is there a way to track my publications where I can see their PMCID numbers?
MyNCBI is a feature of the National Center for Biotechnology Information databases that allows saved records/searches, and customized results. References saved will have PMCIDs automatically updated when available.
MyBibliography is a reference tool within MyNCBI that helps save citations directly from PubMed or, if not found there, to manually enter citations using templates (otherwise static until updates are made). Visit the UW Health Sciences MyNCBI guide to learn more about using these tools.

Other Resources:
NIH Public Access Policy site
NIH Public Access FAQs
UW Health Sciences NIH Public Access Policy Help Guide
UW Health Sciences NIH Public Access Policy Check List
Johns Hopkins University/Sheridan Libraries NIH Public Access Policy/Steps for Compliance