NIH Public Access Policy

Any peer-reviewed publications arising from NIH-funded research on or after April 7, 2008 must be submitted to the National Library of Medicine’s public access repository, PubMed Central. As mandated by the federal government, manuscripts from NIH-funded research will be made publicly available no later than 12 months after publication. Researchers should submit their manuscripts electronically through the NIH Manuscript Submission System (NIHMS) if their articles are not automatically submitted by the publishing journal (see “How do I comply with the Policy” below).

Additionally, researchers are responsible for notifying publishers that a manuscript is subject to the NIH policy. For more information on this process, please visit the NIH Public Access page or the page on BU’s Open Access policy. The NIH also hosts a “PMID : PMCID Converter tool” as well as additional resources and tools that may be helpful.

If you have questions about the Policy that are not covered by these sites, please contact BU Research Support ( or the Medical Library Reference Desk (, 617-358-4810). For questions or problems with submitting manuscripts through NIHMS, contact NIH (

Quick Reference Guide

The NIH Public Access Policy applies to publications that are:

  1. Peer-reviewed
  2. Accepted for publication on or after April 7, 2008
  3. A product of research that has been directly funded by the NIH

Who is responsible for compliance?

The PI is ultimately responsible for making sure that articles resulting from NIH-funded research are submitted to PubMed Central in compliance with the Policy. However, delegates may be assigned to handle much of the administrative work of submission in cases where this is not handled directly by the journal publisher (see ‘Submission,’ below).

How do I comply with the Policy?

    1. Copyright: When your article is accepted for publication, verify that any copyright agreement you make with the journal publisher allows you to submit your manuscript to PubMed Central in accordance with the NIH Public Access Policy.
    2. Submission: Your paper must be submitted to PubMed Central within 12 months of publication. The NIH describes the four different methods of submission here, but the submission process generally falls into these categories:
      1. Some journal publishers automatically submit NIH-funded articles to PubMed Central within 12 months of publication. If your article is accepted by one of these journals, you do not need to do anything further to comply with the policy;
        1. You, or someone in your institution, must deposit your final peer-reviewed manuscript in the NIH Manuscript Submission (NIHMS) system.You can use the My Bibliography feature in MyNCBI to help manage and track your compliance with the NIH public access policy. For more information, see the Managing Compliance section of the NCBI My Bibliography help manual.
      1. Citations: When you are citing NIH-funded papers in NIH applications, proposals, or progress reports, you must list the PubMed Central ID (PMCID) at the end of your reference. This number can be found by locating the article’s citation in PubMed (see below).
        Please Note: The PMCID is not the same as the PubMed ID (PMID).
        In PubMed, the PMCID will appear at the bottom of an abstract, to the right of the PMID. To view the PMCID:
        location of PMC id

        If you already know your PMID number and you would like to find the PMCID number, you can use the NLM’s PMID to PMCID conversion tool.

          How can the Medical Library help?

          A librarian can:

          • Set up one-on-one consultations for questions about the Policy and its requirements
          • Give presentations on the Policy to departments or research groups
          • Help locate citations and PMCIDs for published articles


          Helpful URLs:

          PubMed Central:

          NIH Public Access Policy FAQ:

          NIH Manuscript Submission System: