NIH Public Access Essentials

Source:  NIH Public Access Policy

Impacts: Peer-reviewed papers derived directly from NIH funding and accepted for journal publication on or after April 7, 2008.

Timeline: Papers submitted within 3 months of the journal publication date, or submitted directly to PubMed Central by the journal or publisher, are considered compliant. All other papers are considered non-compliant until they receive a PMCID.

See Submitting a Manuscript (below) for information on the different submission methods.

Who Submits:  Authors, associated PI’s or 3rd parties (grant managers, delegates, etc.)

What to Submit:  Final, peer-reviewed manuscript accepted for publication. Versions of record may be submitted if author holds copyright (e.g., open access) or has permission.

Format:  Wide range of formats acceptable

Where to Submit:  NIH Manuscript Submission System (NIHMS)

Public Access Repository:  PubMed Central (PMC)


Submission Notes

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Submitting a Manuscript

Peer-reviewed papers derived from NIH (or U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) awards and accepted for publication must be submitted to PubMed Central (PMC) via the NIH Manuscript Submission System (NIHMS) within 12 months of publication.

Papers submitted within three months of publication will receive an in-progress and compliant status in eRA Commons progress reports.

The NIH has designated four submission methods (A,B,C,D). The method used to submit a paper to the NIHMS depends on the journal or publisher’s submission policy.
Principal investigators and authors are encouraged to check their journal’s author information page for guidance on which method will be used.

Method A

If the article is published in a journal that submits all NIH-funded final published articles to PMC no additional action or effort is required. Check this list of Method A journals to see if your journal is listed.

Method A Best Practices

Method B

Arrangements can be made with a publisher, usually for a fee, to submit the final journal article directly to PMC. In some case, the journal will do so if an NIH award number is acknowledged in the manuscript. Not all publishers offer this service. Check this list of Method B publishers if you are interested in using this service.

Method B Best Practices

Method C

An author, PI associated with a paper, or third-party may deposit a copy of the final peer-reviewed manuscript in PMC via the NIH Manuscript Submission (NIHMS) system.

Method C Best Practices
Method C: Instructions for authors and PIs submitting a manuscript
Method C: Instructions for submitting a manuscript on behalf of an author or PI

Method D

A publisher will automatically submit accepted papers to the NIHMS, though their timeline fopr doing so may cause the paper to surpass the 3-months-from-publication window the NIH encourages. Check this list of Method D publishers to determine if your publisher is a Method D publisher.

Method D Best Practices

NIH Manuscript Submission System (NIHMS)

Authors, PI’s and third-parties may submit papers for themselves or others. However, before any paper submitted through Methods C or D will be uploaded into PubMed Central (PMC), an author or PI associated with the paper must approve the initial submission and the reformatted end-product.

The NIHMS submission process typically takes 3-5 weeks.

The basic NIHMS submission steps include:

Step Description
Step 1: Deposit Files

A manuscript may be submitted by the author, the PI, the publisher, or another third party.

Third-party submitters must designate an author or PI to serve as the Reviewer for an NIHMS submission.

The Reviewer will receive notification of the deposit via e-mail.

Step 2: Initial Approval

The Reviewer reviews the submission, confirms or adds associated funding, and either rejects or approves the material for processing in NIHMS.

Step 3: NIHMS Conversion

NIHMS staff reviews the approved files for completeness, and complete submissions are converted to archival XML.

The PMC-ready documents (Web and PDF versions) are checked to ensure they accurately reflect the submitted files.

An e-mail notification is sent to the Reviewer when the record is available for final review.

Step 4: Final Approval

The Reviewer reviews the PMC-ready documents (Web and PDF versions) and either requests corrections or approves them for inclusion in PMC.

Final Approval is required to complete manuscript processing in NIHMS.

Step 5: PMCID Assigned

A PMCID is assigned when Final Approval is complete and the manuscript is matched to a PubMed record with complete citation information.

For details, see When will a PMCID be assigned to my manuscript? in the NIHMS FAQ.

Step 6: Publicly AccessibleManuscript is made available in PMC following the publisher-required embargo period (if applicable).

Source: NCBI –

Successful NIHMS submissions include:

  • NIH funding associated with the paper
  • A digital copy of the author accepted manuscript (version of record with publisher or journals permission)
  • The paper’s citation information
  • A designated reviewer associated with the paper

The NIHMS will email the designated reviewer requests for approval. Reviewers may also check their NIHMS accounts  for approval requests.

Only papers that receive both approvals will be uploaded into PMC and receive their PubMed Central Identification Number (PMCID), indicating public access compliance.

NIHMS Submission Status Guide

An NIHMS submission goes through various internal stages of processing. The status of a submission serves to indicate what action(s) are being taken or are needed by the submitter or the designated reviewer.

NIHMS Status What it means
Awaiting file upload The submitter has started a submission but not complete the file upload or has received a request following approval the PDF Receipt for missing or higher quality files not provided at initial submission.
Undergoing NIHMS review following PDF generation failure Generation of the PDF Receipt has failed due to data issues requiring intervention by NIHMS staff. Once the issue is resolved, the PDF Receipt will be available to the Submitter for approval or assignment of the designated Reviewer.
Awaiting submitter’s action following PDF generation failure A notification that the PDF Receipt has failed to generate because of damaged or incompatible files has been sent to the Submitter. He/she should sign in and make the necessary adjustments to the submission.
Awaiting submitter’s initial approval or designation of reviewer The Submitter has provided files but has neither approved the submission for processing nor assigned a Reviewer to approve the submission.
Awaiting reviewer’s initial approval A notification that the PDF Receipt is available for review has been sent to the reviewer. They should sign in, review the deposit, and sign off on the Submission Statement.
Awaiting submitter action following reviewer’s rejection of deposited files The Reviewer has rejected the PDF Receipt. The Submitter should come into the system to make any necessary adjustments to the submission before sending it back to the Reviewer.
Undergoing NIHMS review of submission statement rejection The Reviewer has rejected the Submission Statement. NIHMS staff is reviewing the reason for rejection and will act accordingly, either by removing the submission or contacting the Reviewer.
Undergoing NIHMS review following reviewer’s rejection for lack of funding The Reviewer has rejected the submission as not having been supported by NIH or a participating funder. NIHMS is reviewing the rejection and will either remove the submission or contact the Reviewer for additional information.
Undergoing NIHMS submission review and file preparation NIHMS staff if reviewing the deposit to ensure complete files were provided before starting XML conversion.
PMC-participating journal The submitted manuscript is in a PMC-participating journal. The publisher will supply the manuscript directly to PMC. The NIHMS submission has been blocked from further processing.
Undergoing NLM verification of journal information This status applies only to submissions from journals that are not already in the NLM Catalog. In these cases, NLM’s catalogers need to create a new record for the journal before processing can continue.
Undergoing conversion to PMC documents The deposited files are being tagged in XML to create PMC documents (HTML and PDF). NIHMS staff then compares the PMC documents against the original submission to ensure no errors were introduced.
Awaiting reviewer’s final approval A notification that the PMC-ready documents are available has been sent to the Reviewer. He/she should sign in, review the PMC-formatted version, and either approve or request corrections.
Undergoing revision of PMC documents in response to requested corrections The Reviewer has requested corrections to the PMC-ready documents. NIHMS staff is addressing the correction request.
Awaiting files from the reviewer OR submitter A request for missing or higher quality files not caught during initial review or a request for files required to make a Reviewer-requested change to the PMC-ready documents has been sent to the Reviewer or Submitter (as applicable). He/she should sign in and supply the files required to update the material.
Awaiting final citation information This status applies only to records that do not have final citation information following the Reviewer’s approval of the PMC-ready documents. Final citation information is required to determine the PMC release date. Anyone associated with an NIHMS submission can provide citation information by clicking on the “Provide Citation” button in the manuscript record.
Released to PMC OR Released to PMC (under embargo) When a submission is queued to go into PMC, it is referred to as being “released to PMC”. This involves sending the PMC documents to the database and any citation information or embargo information to PubMed. A PMCID has been assigned; however, if an embargo has been set, the record will remain in this status with a parenthetical notation that is under embargo.
Available in PMC PMC users can now access the full manuscript text.
Withdrawn from PMC The manuscript has been removed from PMC. This is rare and usually occurs because it has been determined that the manuscript does not fall within the scope of the NIH or participating funder’s public access policy and should not have been submitted. The PMCID is no longer valid or compliance purposes.

Source: Boston University

My NCBI and My Bibliography

My NCBI is a tool that allows researchers to save searches and results from multiple NCBI databases. Additionally, it’s My Bibliography function allows authors to record and manage their citations, including checking their citations’ public access compliance status.

Researchers or support staff may create or sign-in to My NCBI accounts using their eRA Commons, NIH, Google or university credentials. Users without credentials may register for a free NCBI account.

My Bibliography

One of the most useful functions of a My Bibliography list is that as long as a citation is associated with a funding award and the My NCBI account is linked with a PI’s eRA Commons account, it is possible to see the public access compliance status of the citation.

How to Link eRA Commons and NCBI accounts

Citations associated with a PI’s awards in a My Bibliography list will also automatically appear in those awards’ progress reports (RPPR’s).

For more information on My Bibliography functions: