December 10, 2017

NIH Access Policy Gains Teeth

Soon, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will explicitly link grant funding to the successful submission of a final peer-review manuscript to the PubMed Central repository, in an attempt to increase compliance with the Institute’s public access mandate.

The exact date on which the new policy will go into effect hasn’t yet been announced, but Dr. Sally Rockey, NIH’s Deputy Director for Extramural Research, said on November 16, 2012, “We are giving funded organizations at least five months to prepare for our new process,” which would place the change at about mid-April or thereafter.

The public access policy itself isn’t new: it was introduced on a voluntary basis in 2005, and made mandatory in 2008. But mandatory in theory didn’t always add up to compliance in practice: according to a 2012 report from the President’s National Science and Technology Council [PDF], fully a quarter of papers based on NIH-funded research are not submitted to PubMed Central.

Neil Thakur, special assistant to the deputy director of extramural research at the NIH, told Nature Medicine he expects making continued funds contingent on compliance “to increase our numbers quite a bit.”

To make compliance easier, NIH’s My Bibliography now includes an option to generate a PDF format report and a new “Linked to my Awards” filter; a Public Access Compliance Monitor is also available. NIH offered a webinar on the changes on January 15; for those who missed it, slides are available, and a recording will be added in three to five business days.

Help is also available from some journal publishers, who submit articles for their authors, and from some academic libraries, which either do the same for their faculty members, or offer instruction and help for faculty members who must do it themselves. In addition to Countway Library of Medicine at Harvard, other libraries that submit for their researchers include the Arnold Library at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Georgia Tech Library, Scott Library at Thomas Jefferson University, Taubman Health Sciences Library at the University of Michigan, Rutgers University Libraries, and Loyola Health Science Library.

Meredith Schwartz About Meredith Schwartz

Meredith Schwartz ( is Executive Editor of Library Journal.