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NIH Public Access Policy

PMCIDs (and sometimes NIHMS IDs) signify compliance

To demonstrate compliance, all papers that fall under the NIH Public Access Policy must be cited using the PMCID or NIHMSID in all applications, proposals and reports submitted to the NIH.

  • If the article was published more than three months ago, you must cite the PMCID.
  • If the article was published less than three months ago and hasn't been assigned a PMCID yet, you must cite the NIHMSID (if using submission Methods C or D) or indicate "PMC Journal - In Process" (for Methods A or B).

PMIDs and PMCIDs are not the same:

  • PubMed ID (PMID) | This is the reference number assigned to all articles in PubMed. The PMID is linked with a paper's abstract in PubMed and is not associated with the NIH Public Access Policy
  • PubMed Central ID (PMCID) | This is the reference number assigned to articles available in PubMed Central. A PMCID is linked to a full-text article availalbe in PMC. It is the ID you want to use when citing papers in NIH documents.
  • NIHMSID (also called Manuscript ID) | After submitting a manuscript through the NIH Manuscript Submission system (NIHMS) through methods C or D, your manuscript will be assigned a NIHMSID. The NIHMSID can be used to signify compliance less than three months after publication for papers that have not yet been assigned a PMCID.

Note: For a given PMID (or list of them), you can use the PMCID/PMID/NIHMSID/DOI Converter to obtain the PMCID or NIHMSID if they exist.

MyNCBI & MyBibliography

Principal investigators with eRA Commons accounts will use the My NCBI My Bibliography tool to manage and populate their professional bibliographies. PIs must have a MyNCBI account in order to access My Bibliography and the account must be linked with an eRA Commons account. PIs may designate a delegate to maintain My Bibliography content on their behalf.

Using Endnote for Compliance

Publications managed in EndNote (and other reference managers) can be easily exported into a bibliography in NIH format provided the PMIDs and PMCIDs have been imported into the program correctly. Below are instructions on two methods of importing citation information in EndNote and on how to export in the NIH format.

PubMed --> EndNote: upload file method
Better for uploading many articles at a time.

  1. In PubMed, run your search and select the citations you'd like to export to Endnote [hint: you can "Send" citations to your "Clipboard" to save them aside until you've collected the full list there that you would like to export. Then go to "Clipboard" to send them all]
  2. Click "Send to:" in the upper right and select "File".
  3. Choose "MEDLINE" for Format. Make sure number of items listed here is equal to the number of items you expected to export.
  4. Click "Create File". A file will be saved/downloaded to your computer with the title "pubmed_result"
  5. In EndNote, go to File menu and select Import -> File
  6. Choose the file just downloaded from PubMed, and make sure "Import Option" is set to "PubMed (NLM)", the click "Import"
  7. PubMed articles should import with PMIDs and PMCIDs.

PubMEd --> EndNote: search in EndNote method
Better for uploading only a few articles.

  1. Within EndNote, go to Tools menu and select "Online Search"
  2. From "Choose a Connection", select "PubMed (NLM)" and click "Choose"
  3. You can search for individual articles by author, year, and/or title. The easiest way, though, is if you have the PMID. Select "PMID" and enter the PMID in the search box. Then click "Search" in the upper left.
  4. Once you find the article you want, right click on it and select "Copy reference to..." and then select the library you want to add the reference to. 

Creating a bibliography in NIH Format

First you need to make sure you have the correct NIH style in EndNote. EndNote does come with an NIH style, however, it creates a bibliography that is numbered, which may not be wanted. To use an NIH format without numbers, you can download the following file.

Once you've downloaded the output style, follow the steps below to save it in the EndNote program:

  1. Double-click on the downloaded style to open it.
  2. It should open in the EndNote program.
  3. In EndNote, go to the "File Menu" and choose "Save as.
  4. "Remove the word "copy" from the end of the style's name, and then click the Save button.
  5. Click on the "File Menu" and choose "Close Style."
  6. Now the style should be saved in the EndNote program.

Note: The saved style will be located in the Documents > EndNote > Styles folder.


To create a bibliography:

  1. From within your library, go to File menu and select "Export"
  2. Select Save as type = "Text file" and select the output style. If you don't see the output style in the list, you can select it from a larger list by clicking on "Select another style..."
  3. Click "Save". The file should be downloaded. You can cut and paste the output into Word or another program.