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The Graduate Health & Life Sciences Research Library at Georgetown University Medical Center

Open Access Publishing and Resources

Guide to open access content and publishing, including NIH Public Access requirements

NIH Public Access Policy

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) policy requires authors  "to submit final peer-reviewed journal manuscripts that arise from NIH funds to PubMed Central immediately upon acceptance for publication " as part of their Public Access Policy.  Much of the content within PubMed Central, a digital repository, can be considered open access; however, content is still protected by copyright and made available under a creative commons or similar license.

The general steps for compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy are:

  • Ensure that any copyright agreements with publishers allow for posting to PubMed Central in accordance with NIH Public Access Policy.
  • Submit final peer-reviewed paper to NIH upon acceptance for publication.  Papers must be made available on PubMed Central one year from official date of publication.
  • Utilize one of the four submission methods provided by NIH to send the paper to PubMed Central for publishing. Depending on the publishing agreement, either authors or the publisher will submit the papers to PubMed Central.
  • Applications, proposals or reports to the NIH should include citations to the PubMed Central reference (PMCID) number  for applicable papers.  The PMCID is an identifying number given to the papers in PubMed Central.  This number is different from a PubMed ID (PMID) and begins with "PMC" followed by a series of numbers.

By 2026,  all federally funded research will be required to be open access immediately.  Government agencies are currently updating their open access and data sharing plans in order to conform to the new policies.

NCBI and eRA Commons accounts

A National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) account can, among other things, help authors manage compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy.  Grant awardees can link an NCBI account to their research grant management account (eRA Commons) and use this integration to determine compliance with the policy.     Below are the general steps for grant awardees/authors:

  • Create both eRA Commons and NCBI accounts
  • In the eRA Commons account
    • Link the eRA Commons account to the NCBI account
  • In the NCBI account:
    • Use the Publications (My bibliography)  and identify author citations
    • Use the Manage citations - Manage awards option to associate citations and awards
    • Use the Manage my Bibliography option and check the citation compliance status bar
    • Green, yellow, and red coding will appear in the bibliography to indicate the compliance status of the article.  An Edit Status link will be available to start the compliance process.

A detailed description of the process along with the appropriate links and instructions is provided within the eRA Manage Publications page. 

Data Sharing

As part of the  U.S. Government Open Data Policy  which encourages federal agencies to promote data sharing,  NIH has a long standing policy of requesting a data sharing plan for grant applications over a certain amount.    A full list of NIH Data Sharing Policies by departments is available as well as an extensive list of Data Sharing Repositories  for researchers.

In January 2023,  a new NIH Data Management & Sharing Policy from NIH will be enforced.  Grants submitted after that time will require researchers to plan for for how scientific data will be preserved and shared through the submission of a Data Management and Sharing Plan with their grant applications. More details can be found on the NIH Data Management and Sharing Overview page page.


Helpful web sites - NIH Public Access Policy