On December 26, 2007, the president signed into law appropriations bill (H.R. 2764) which included a groundbreaking open access provision. Effective April 7, 2008 anyone who publishers an article based upon research funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH) is required to submit an electronic version of their final, peer reviewed manuscript to PubMed Central, the free digital archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature.
How to Comply
If you have received NIH funding and have had an article published in a peer reviewed journal, you will need to comply with this policy. The NIH states that the submission process usually takes less than ten minutes.
- Address copyright issues (at the time you submit manuscript to publisher)
When submitting manuscripts to publishers, attach this Letter to Publisher (PDF) from the UC Office of Research Administration and Technology Transfer; it ensures UC support for compliance.
Check the SHERPA/RoMEO database to determine publisher' policies for depositing in PubMed Central.
If your publisher requires you to sign an author copyright transfer agreement (CTA), do not sign it if it does not allow you to submit the final, peer-reviewed manuscript to PubMed Central. For more on this, see Manage Your Rights.
- Submit manuscript to NIH (upon acceptance for publication)
If you submit to Journals That Submit Articles to PubMed Central, you need not do anything to comply with this requirement. (Included on this list are all the BiomedCentral (BMC) journals, Public Library of Science (PLoS) journals, and many more.)
- Cite the article
When citing an article in NIH applications, proposals, and progress, you must include the PubMed Central reference number (PMCID); see FAQ on how to cite articles for more information.
The new NIH policy is an important step forward for science, scientists, and the higher education community. The impact on UC researchers alone will be significant. The University of California received over $1.5 billion in NIH funds in 2007 for 3,900 awards. Here are some ways the new policy will benefit UC researchers:
Research in PubMed Central is available to virtually all Internet users, regardless of whether their library subscribes to the journal in which the research is published. This will greatly expand access to the estimated 80,000 articles that result each year from NIH funding for use in research, teaching, and patient care. We estimate that UC articles comprise 8% of that 80,000 or over 6,000 articles per year.
A consequence of making work more visible among scientists around the world is greater impact. For more on this, see Publish to Maximize Impact.
The National Library of Medicine will provide long-term digital archiving of articles in PubMed Central.
More questions about the NIH policy
- NIH Public Access Policy FAQ
- NLM Technical Bulletin: NIH Manuscript Submission System
- Or send a question to the Library's .
Background on federally funded research
In an Open Letter to the Higher Education Community (PDF) the provosts of 25 institutions including the University of California, University of Michigan, Harvard, and Northwestern, endorsed FRPAA, the predecessor to the new NIH public access mandate, stating that, "FRPAA is good for education and good for research. It is good for the American public, and it promotes broad democratic access to knowledge." As stated by the Alliance for Taxpayer Access, "American taxpayers are entitled to open access on the Internet to the peer-reviewed scientific articles on research funded by the U.S. Government."
Among the many other supporters of FRPAA are Public Knowledge, National Society of Consulting Soil Scientists, and the Association of College and Research Libraries.
Beyond the US
Initiatives to make taxpayer-funded research publicly available, often referred to as "open access mandates," is by no means unique to the United States. In 2006, the European Commission issued a report examining the scientific publication system in Europe; the report recommends, among other things, "guaranteed public access to publicly-funded research." In the UK, the Medical Research Council mandates that researchers' findings must be made freely available to the public within six months of publication.
Improving Access to Federally Funded Research: What's in It for the Institution (PDF)
Remarks by David Shulenberger expressing his support for FRPAA.
Managing Copyright for NIH Public Access: Strategies to Ensure Compliance (PDF)
By Kevin L. Smith, Scholarly Communication Officer, Duke University.
NIH Public Access Policy Chronology of Events
From Washington University Library in St. Louis Medical Library.
NIH Public-Access Policy: Frequently Asked Questions
From Peter Suber's Open Access Newsletter.
Open Access to Research is in the Public Interest
An editorial in PLoS in which Richard J. Roberts, a 1993 Nobel Prizewinner, and Bevin P. Engleward from MIT, support the NIH's efforts to make federally funded medical research publicly accessible.
Progress Towards Public Access to Science
Editorial by Harold Varmus, President of Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
Public Access Policies: Access to Federally Funded Research
Analysis from the Association of Research Libraries.