University of Southern California

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What is the NIH Public Access Policy?

The NIH Public Access Policy implements Division G, Title II, Section 218 of PL 110-161 (Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008) which states:

SEC. 218. 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.

What Does It Mean To Me?

It is a requirement for future NIH funding.

  • April 7, 2008.  All articles arising from NIH funding must be submitted to PubMed Central upon acceptance for publication, to be publicly released within 12 months. See a flowchart of the compliance process.

  • 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 that is authored or co-authored by the investigator, or arose from the investigator’s NIH award.
Retain Your Rights

Authors routinely sign agreements with publishers that transfer their copyright to the publisher.  Therefore the author may not have the right to submit the article as required.  See a two-minute video introduction about author rights.

A recent SPARC/Science Commons/ARL joint white paper recommends sending a cover letter with your journal submission, and they have provided a suggested cover letter. Additionally, SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) has developed an addendum that can be used with the publisher’s agreement.  It reserves rights to authors sufficient to comply with the Public Access Policy and is available online via the Scholar’s Copyright Addendum Engine.

The SPARC Author Rights brochure is available online and in print at the Norris Medical Library. It provides more information about author rights.

How Do I Submit My Article To PubMed Central?

Important Note About The PMCID

Additional information is available at the NIH Public Access web site.

If you have further questions, please contact Pamela Corley, Research Support Librarian at (323) 442-1125 or

Revised 5/13/09


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