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NIH Requirements

As of April 7, 2008, recipients of NIH grants are required to deposit copies of their final, peer-reviewed manuscripts into PubMed Central, a freely accessible electronic database, for release no later than 12 months after publication. In addition, all grant proposals, progress reports, or renewals submitted to the NIH after May 25, 2008 must include the reference numbers from PubMed Central for all publications that fall under this new policy. .

The Policy Statement

The Director of the National Institutes of Health shall require that all investigators funded by the NIH submit or have submitted for them to the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed Central an electronic version of their final, peer-reviewed manuscripts upon acceptance for publication, to be made publicly available no later than 12 months after the official date of publication: Provided, That the NIH shall implement the public access policy in a manner consistent with copyright law.

Details for Compliance

The NIH Public Access Policy applies to all peer-reviewed articles that arise, in whole or in part, from direct costs funded by NIH, or from NIH staff, that are accepted for publication on or after April 7, 2008. This includes articles that are:

  • Directly funded by an NIH grant or cooperative agreement active in federal fiscal year 2008 (Oct 1, 2007-September 30, 2008) or beyond
  • Directly funded by a contract signed on or after April 7, 2008
  • Directly funded by the NIH Intramural Program
  • If NIH pays the investigator’s salary

Institutions and investigators are responsible for ensuring that any publishing or copyright agreements concerning submitted articles fully comply with this Policy.
PubMed Central (PMC) is the NIH digital archive of full-text, peer-reviewed journal articles. Its content is publicly accessible and integrated with other databases (see:

The final, peer-reviewed manuscript includes all graphics and supplemental materials that are associated with the article.

Beginning May 25, 2008, anyone submitting an application, proposal or progress report to the NIH must include the PMC or NIH Manuscript Submission reference number when citing applicable articles that arise from their NIH funded research. This policy includes applications submitted to the NIH for the May 25, 2008 due date and subsequent due dates.

What this means for faculty

When you submit a manuscript for publication for work that has received support from the NIH, you must address copyright before signing agreements with publishers. You have these options:

  • Publish in journals that have agreed to submit the final version of your manuscript directly to PubMed Central. The list of publishers is available at
  • Ask the publisher to submit the final version of your manuscript to PubMed Central on your behalf.
  • Submit a final version of your manuscript yourself (or with help of the university) directly to PubMed Central. When you submit your manuscript you must protect your copyright to allow submission of a copy to PubMed Central. You should do this in two ways:
    • Include with your manuscript submission a letter that states the NIH requirement (you can refer them to this URL) and gives the publisher the 3 options listed above for compliance with the regulation.
    • When you receive the publisher’s Copyright Transfer form after acceptance of your paper, if there is no explicit language allowing a copy of your paper to be submitted to PubMed Central, you should amend the contract.

To amend a contract, follow these steps:

  • Above your signature, type in “subject to attached amendment”
  • Prepare an amendment on a separate page, sign it, and date it. The amendment is as follows (NIH sample language):”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.”

What happens if you do not comply with this policy?

Although NIH has not published any explicit penalty for non-compliance, there is the implied threat that either your new grant will not be funded until you do comply (that is, supply the PubMed Central reference number), or no grants to the entire institution will be funded until compliance is met.

If you have any questions at any stage of this process, contact the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs for assistance (510-885-4212).

Guidance from NIH

Last Updated 06.20.12

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