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NIH Data Sharing & Public Access Policies

Guide to the NIH Public Access Policy, submitting peer-reviewed manuscripts to PubMed Central, and compliance with the policy.

Public Access Policy Overview

What is the NIH Public Access Policy?

The National Institutes of Health Public Access Policy ensures that the public has access to the published results of NIH-funded research. It requires investigators to submit final peer-reviewed journal manuscripts that arise from NIH funds to the digital archive PubMed Central upon acceptance for publication.  To help advance science and improve human health, the Policy requires that these papers are accessible to the public on PubMed Central no later than 12 months after publication.*

There are four major components of complying with the NIH Public Access Policy:

  1. Determine Applicability
  2. Address Copyright
  3. Submit Manuscript to the NIH Manuscript Submission System (NIHMS) for Deposit into PubMed Central (PMC)
  4. Show Evidence of Compliance

Compliance with the NIH policy is complex and involves multiple systems.  The Principal Investigator (PI) is ultimately responsible for ensuring and verifying compliance, but may assign some tasks to other individuals on the research team or associated staff. 

* In 2022 the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued revised guidance recommending that all federal funding agencies remove the 12-month embargo no later than January 2026.

1. Does the Policy apply to my article?

The NIH Public Access Policy applies to any manuscript published on or after April 7, 2008 that:

  • is peer-reviewed and accepted for publication in a journal


  • arises from any direct funding from an NIH grant, cooperative agreement, or contract

If both conditions are true, then you are required to comply with the NIH policy and ensure that your article is made publicly accessible within no later than 12 months after publication.

The Policy does not apply to other publications such as books, book chapters, editorial content, non-NIH-funded work, or non-peer-reviewed articles.

2. Addressing Copyright

Before signing a copyright transfer agreement with the Publisher, the authors and PI should make sure that the terms allow the author to comply with the NIH policy.  Avoid signing agreements that do not allow this, and if necessary consider another publishing venue.

Inform the Publisher at the time of submission that your article is subject to the NIH Public Access Policy. Most publishers are well aware of the Policy and have mechanisms in place to facilitate compliance. 

3. PubMed Central Submission Methods

There are four methods to ensure that an applicable paper is submitted to PubMed Central (PMC) in compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy. Authors may use whichever method is most appropriate for them and consistent with their publishing agreement.

submission method chart

Chart reproduced courtesy of Duke University Medical Center Library & Archives

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