Tools & Resources

NIH Public Access Policy

 The NIH enforces a federal law requiring all NIH-funded research to meet the NIH public
access policy upon acceptance for publication in a journal. Utilizing VBRN resources in
your work and citing the VBRN grant number will trigger this requirement. Submitting
the work to PubMed Central (PMC), either as the accepted, peer-reviewed manuscript
or the final published article, meets this requirement. Submissions can be made by
a coauthor, a designee of an author, or the journal on behalf of an author. Note, NIH
requires NIH-supported research articles be deposited in PMC even if the article is
open access and freely available in another database. NIH maintains a list of journals
that submit articles to PMC automatically on behalf of authors. For journals that do not
automatically submit on behalf of authors, it is your responsibility to make certain this
requirement is met.*

To identify which of four method(s) to use for depositing your VBRN-supported
manuscript into PMC follow this handy submission method identification wizard
available on the NIH public access policy page. The methods, briefly, are as follows:

  • For Method A, the journals post the final published version of all peer-reviewed
    NIH-funded articles to PMC no later than 12 months after publication without
    author involvement. For more information see: Method A Best Practices |
  • For Method B, journals do not automatically deposit every NIH-funded paper in
    PMC. Rather, the author can choose to arrange with the journal for the deposit of a
    specific article. This usually involves choosing the journal’s fee-based open access
    option for publishing that article. Please contact the respective journals directly
    for details on their programs. For more information on Method B see: Select Deposit Publishers (Method B) |
  • For Methods C and D, your manuscript should be submitted to PMC through the
    National Health Manuscript Submission System (NIHMS). In Method C, the author
    or a delegate deposits the accepted, peer-reviewed manuscript into the NIHMS.
    In Method D, the publisher deposits the accepted peer-reviewed manuscript into
    the NIHMS. Regardless of who starts and manages the submission process, authors
    and awardees are responsible for ensuring that the accepted, peer-reviewed
    manuscript is deposited into the NIHMS upon acceptance for publication.
    Submissions need to be completed within 90 days of the article’s official date of
    publication in order to be compliant with the NIH public access policy. For more
    information on Methods C and D see: Submitting papers through the NIHMS: Methods C and D Best Practices |

Step-by-step guidelines for submitting your manuscript via NIHMS (Method C and D
submissions) are below and also elaborated on in a series of tutorials provided by NIHMS as well as in their FAQ page.


  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. In these cases, the Reviewer will
    receive notification of the deposit via e-mail. Note, an eRA Commons ID or myNCBI
    ID is needed for the submission.
  2. Initial approval: the Reviewer reviews the submission, confirms or adds
    associated funding, and either rejects or approves the material for processing in
  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. Processing time for this step is usually 2-3 weeks but may vary
    depending on the volume of submissions at a given time. An e-mail notification is
    sent to the Reviewer when the record is available for final review.
  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.
  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.
  6. Available in PMC: the manuscript is made available in PMC following the
    publisher-required embargo period (if applicable).

Please email VBRN ( with any questions you may have about this policy
or the process of depositing your manuscript into PMC. We are here to help!

* If publications are not in compliance with the NIH public access policy, NIH can
withhold funds from VBRN. Additionally, any of your grant applications containing
citations of previous works that were in any way funded by the NIH must comply with
the NIH public access policy or the grant budget will be withheld. Ensuring that your
research publications comply with the public access policy at the time of publication
will facilitate this part of your future grant applications


NIH is made up of 27 Institutes and Centers, each with a specific research agenda, often
focusing on particular diseases or body systems.