NIH Employee Procedures for Complying with NIH Public Access Policy

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Note: These procedures and forms apply to all peer-reviewed works published by NIH employees, contractors working at NIH, and trainees working at NIH (henceforth referred to as "NIH Employees" in this document). These procedures and forms do not apply to extramural awardees.  

For NIH procedures for non-peer-reviewed works, which includes most books and chapters that you author or edit, see "NIH Employee Procedures for Complying with Publication Policy."

The NIH Public Access Policy only applies to peer-reviewed papers published in journals. As of April 7, 2008, your peer-reviewed papers should be submitted to PubMed Central (PMC) immediately upon acceptance for publication by a journal. PMC will make these papers publicly available within 12 months of publication. The Policy applies to all peer-reviewed papers that you author or co-author as part of your NIH duties, even if the corresponding author or other authors are not supported by NIH. All peer-reviewed manuscripts must be submitted to the publisher with the NIH Publishing Agreement & Manuscript Cover Sheet (PDF - 17 KB) upon the initial submission of a manuscript for review. The cover sheet also must be submitted to the publisher upon acceptance for publication, in lieu of signing a publisher's agreement. You must do the following for every peer-reviewed publication:

Part I – Publishing Agreement

1. Obtain clearance for your publication. In general, any writing by an NIH employee on a work-related subject, whether intended for electronic or print publication, or for oral delivery, must be prepared according to accepted NIH standards, reviewed for substantive content, and administratively approved. NIH intramural scientists should use this IC manuscript submission approval form and employees of the Office of the NIH Director should use this form. Other NIH Employees may have different procedures, depending on their IC. Please see NIH Policy Manual issuance 1184 for more information.

2. Ensure that the "NIH Publishing Agreement & Manuscript Cover Sheet" is submitted with your manuscript to a publisher.   Your manuscript must be accompanied by an NIH Publishing Agreement & Manuscript Cover Sheet (PDF - 17 KB) when FIRST submitted to a publisher for review. If the manuscript has multiple NIH employees as authors, at least one Cover Sheet must accompany the manuscript to ensure NIH's interests are protected.   Ensure that the Cover Sheet is sent even if you do not submit the manuscript personally, or if the corresponding author is not an NIH employee. Note, you will not need to submit a Cover Sheet directly if your publisher allows you to approve a Cover Sheet on their website (for example, by checking a box on their website that refers to copy of the Cover Sheet on our website or theirs).

The Cover Sheet has been approved in advance by the NIH Deputy Director for Intramural Research, Dr. Michael Gottesman, and must be signed by at least one of the NIH employee authors. It allows you to complete a publisher's manuscript submission process, including clicking any boxes on a publisher website as part of an electronic submission, while protecting NIH's interests.

3. If your manuscript is accepted for publication, each NIH employee author should affix a signed Cover Sheet to the unsigned publisher's agreement and return it to the publisher.  

NIH employees may sign only the Cover Sheet as written, and no other publishing agreements. By attaching the Cover Sheet to the publisher's agreement, you are accepting those terms of the publisher's agreement that are not in conflict with the terms specified in the NIH Cover Sheet. Some publishers may process these agreements electronically. You will not need to submit a Cover Sheet directly if your publisher allows you to approve a Cover Sheet on their website (for example, by checking a box on their website that refers to copy of the Cover Sheet on our website or theirs). You are also permitted to supply any needed information or check any boxes on the publisher form or website (e.g. identifying information, financial and conflict of interest information, data sharing arrangements) at your discretion. 

4. If the publisher refuses to accept the Cover Sheet or wants to negotiate, refer them to your IC Technology Development Coordinator.  

Part II – Submitting Papers to PubMed Central (PMC)

See "Submission Methods" for instructions or this Tip Sheet for NIH Employees on using the NIH Manuscript Submission system (NIHMS). Note that the Cover Sheet allows the posting of your final peer-reviewed manuscript on PubMed Central (PMC) up to 12 months after publication. We ask that you respect a Publisher's preference for the timing of the manuscript's appearance on PMC, as long as it is 12 months or less. You are not required to pay a fee to have a Publisher deposit a paper on your behalf; you may always submit the final peer-reviewed manuscript to PMC via the NIHMS yourself.

Part III – Internal NIH Reporting

Include PMCID if you cite your paper in IC reviews.

If you cite one of your articles in your IC's Annual Report, an IC review (such as a Board of Scientific Counselors review), or a request for competitive funding from the NIH, you must include the article's PubMed Central reference number (PMCID), or alternative identifying information if the PMCID is not yet available. See our Frequently Asked Questions for details. (An exception will be made only if the paper was accepted for publication prior to April 7, 2008.)  

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Last Updated: 
Tuesday, March 18, 2014