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NIH Public Access Policy and CU

Authors' Rights Information Page

NIH Public Access Policy


The new NIH Public Access Policy, effective April 7, 2008, ensures that the public has access to the published results of NIH funded research. All accepted, peer-reviewed manuscripts arising from direct costs funded by NIH must be submitted to the open-access digital archive PubMed Central. These manuscripts will be made publicly available on PubMed Central within 12 months of the publication date. The policy requires that these articles be accessible to the public on PubMed Central to help advance science and improve human health.

Beginning May 25, 2008, all NIH applications, proposals, and progress reports must include the PubMed Central reference number (PMCID) when citing an article that falls under the policy and is authored or co-authored by the investigator or arose from the investigator's NIH award. PMCID numbers can be found in the PubMed Central database. CU-Boulder Libraries can help locate PMCID numbers; contact Government Publications (govpubs@colorado.edu) or Collection Development (cdedept@colorado.edu).

Are you required to comply?
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 applies to you if your peer-reviewed article is based on research work in one of the following categories:

  • NIH grant or cooperative agreement active in Fiscal Year 08 or beyond.
  • Contract signed on or after April 7, 2008.
  • NIH Intramural program.
  • NIH pays your salary.

NIH has a thorough FAQ that can answer many questions.

How to comply
There are a number of ways to comply with the NIH Public Access Policy:

  1. Retain your rights. When submitting a publication or signing a copyright transfer agreement with a publisher, inform the publishers that the manuscript is subject to the NIH Public Access Policy. To help you protect your academic rights and fulfill your responsibilities to NIH, we strongly encourage you to include a version of this draft letter with any manuscript that is submitted for publication.


    In addition to including the draft letter when you submit your manuscript, we recommend that you add an addendum to the copyright release form. It could be as simple as adding the following language or you could generate an addendum using the Science Commons' Scholar 's Copyright Addendum Engine.


    Language for the addendum:

    "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."


  2. Many journals will submit articles to PubMed Central on behalf of the author. If you choose to publish your article in one of these journals, you need to do nothing further to comply with the submission requirement of the Policy. See http://publicaccess.nih.gov/submit_process_journals.htm for a list of these journals. 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 (see the next option below). The NIH submission process is simple and easy; paying the publisher is NOT necessary.

  4. For any journal other than one of those in this list, the author must submit the article to NIH, upon acceptance for publication. If the journal does not submit to PubMed Central, you will need to submit your final manuscript, including all graphics and supplemental materials, using the NIH Manuscript Submission System. NIH provides tutorials on using their submission system.

Benefits of the policy

Potential benefits of the Public Access policy for NIH grantees include:

  • Articles will be preserved and archived by the National Library of Medicine.
  • Articles in PubMed Central may be fully integrated with other databases developed and supported by NIH including PubMed, GenBank, PubChem, and many others.
  • Increased visibility of your research due to public access.

Looking for more information?
For more information on the NIH Public Access Policy, try one of the following: