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NIH Public Access Policy

Frequently Asked Questions


Why am I asked to deposit the final peer-reviewed manuscript, rather than the final published article?

The NIH Public Access Policy requires that you deposit the final peer-reviewed manuscript. However, the final published article is also accepted if you have the rights to submit it.

  • The final peer-reviewed manuscript is the final version of a paper that includes all changes resulting from the peer-review process and has been accepted for publication.
  • The final published article is the authoritative copy of the paper published in the journal, including copy and format modifications.

You can see if the publisher allows you to submit the final published version by checking the SHERPA/RoMEO database. This information may also appear in the publication agreement between the authors and the publisher.

Ultimately, who is responsible for submission of articles to PMC?

As it can potentially delay or prevent funding of awards, non-compliance can impact institutions, principal investigators and other researchers whose work is funded by the award. It is however, the responsibility of the primary awardee for ensuring that the terms and conditions of an award are met.

This means that all peer-reviewed articles resulting from the grant should be deposited in PMC, including papers authored by sub-recipients. As PI, you may be responsible for ensuring that papers not authored by you, but resulting from your award, are deposited as well.

It is important to note that even if a third party - i.e. a publisher - has been tasked with submitting an article to PMC, they are not responsible for ensuring compliance with the policy and responsibility ultimately lies with the award recipients.

Who can submit a manuscript to NIHMS?

Manuscripts can be submitted by any of the authors, a PI, an administrator or any third party with access to the manuscript.

Who can act as reviewer in NIHMS - that is, approve the materials as they are finalized for deposit in PMC?

Only an author on the paper or, in cases where an author can't be found to do it, the PI can approve the manuscript as it moves through the NIHMS system.

The reason for this is that the materials are often submitted in pieces - text separate from tables and images. It's important for someone familiar with the work to review the finished PDF and make sure that it presents the research results correctly.

How do I find out what the embargo period is for an article?

The NIH allows an embargo period of up to 12 months for articles falling under the policy. Publishers determine whether the period will be 0, 6, or 12 months. You can find the embargo period required by the publisher on the publisher's web site. It's often easier to look up the journal's title in the SHERPA/RoMEO database.

I don't think my article falls under the policy. How do I let NIH know?

Articles do not need to comply with the NIH Public Access Policy and be added to PMC if any of the following are true:

  • Article was not peer-reviewed
  • Was accepted for publication before April 7, 2008
  • Is printed in a script other than Latin (Korean, Russian)
  • Was not directly supported by NIH funds active in FY08 or after

You can let NIH know this by editing the status of the article in My Bibliography:

Click "Edit Status" next to the article.


Then select "This publication does not need to be submitted under NIH Public Access because:" (and select your reason). Then click "Save & Close"


How do I associate an article with a grant?

You can add a grant to a publication in My Bibliography, by clicking on the "Add award" or "Add or delete award" links under the article.

Then you can either select the award from the list or use the second tab to search for the award by number or PI.



Note: you can add or delete awards from multiple publications at one time. Just select the publications you want to modify. Then click on the button "Assign awards" at the top of the page.


How do I disassociate an article from a grant?

You can sometimes remove a grant from a publication in My Bibliography. This is only possible if the grant does NOT have a silver or gold lock next to it.

  • Gold lock = Connection made in NIHMS. Contact the NIHMS help desk if the grant should be removed from the publication.
  • Silver lock = Connection made in Commons on a progress report. The only way to change this would be to resubmit the report.
  • No lock = Connection was likely made by an author in My Bibliography. You can remove the connection following the steps below.

If there is no lock, you can remove the grant from the publication, by clicking, "Add or delete award". Then find the award on the list and uncheck it. Then click "save".

Note: you can add or delete awards from multiple publications at one time. Just select the publications you want to modify. Then click on the button "Assign awards" at the top of the page.


What do all the columns in a compliance monitor report mean?

  • PMID: The PubMed ID. Every article in PubMed will have one. 
  • PMCID: The PubMed Central ID that indicates that an article has been submitted to PMC and is in compliance. You're not likely to see a PMCID in one of these reports.
  • NIHMSID: The NIH Manuscript Submission System ID. Indicates that a manuscript has been submitted to this system. 
  • Grant Number and PI Name: The grant the article has been associated with and the name of the PI on that grant. The PI is the person ultimately responsible for compliance.
  • Publication Date: The publication date of the article. If the article does not have a PMCID assigned within three months of publication, it is officially out of compliance.
  • NIHMS File deposited: This is the date the manuscript was deposited into NIHMS by either the publisher or one of the authors. Any article in this report with a NIHMS ID should also have a file deposited date.
  • NIHMS Initial approval, NIHMS Tagging Complete, NIHMS Final Approval: These are the steps a manuscript must go through in NIHMS before it is deposited in PMC and assigned a PMCID. These columns will indicate a date the step or approval happened or no date (indicating that the approval hasn't been done or the article is not in NIHMS). 
  • Article Title: The title of the article that's not in compliance.
  • First Author Name: The name of the first author on the article (not necessarily an author at Brown or the one responsible for approving the manuscript).
  • Journal Title and Journal Publisher. The title of the journal and its publisher. This information can help determine which method is used for deposit (A, B, C or D) and who to contact if there is a problem.
  • Method A Journal: Whether the article was published in a method A journal. Method A is generally the easiest and quickest method for deposit. You are not likely to see a "yes" in this column.
  • NIHMS Person: This is the person assigned as Reviewer in the NIHMS system. He or she is responsible for approving the manuscript at three steps as it moves through the system. It is usually and author on the paper, but can be the PI.