NIH Public Access Policy

The NIH Public Access Policy is an open access mandate requiring that research papers describing research funded by the National Institutes of Health must be available to the public for free through PubMed Central within 12 months of publication. In this scheme, the research papers have an open access license applied to them and PubMed Central is the self-archiving repository in which authors deposit their publications.


The NIH Public Access Policy applies Division G, Title II, Section 218 of PL 110-161 (Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008) which states:[1]

"The Director of the National Institutes of Health shall require that all investigators funded by the NIH submit or have submitted for them to the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed Central an electronic version of their final, peer-reviewed manuscripts upon acceptance for publication, to be made publicly available no later than 12 months after the official date of publication: Provided, that the NIH shall implement the public access policy in a manner consistent with copyright law."


The work must be:

1. Peer reviewed[2]

2. Published or approved for publication by a journal on or after April 7, 2008[2]

3. "And, arises from:

  • Any direct funding from an NIH grant or cooperative agreement active in Fiscal Year 2008 or beyond, or;
  • Any direct funding from an NIH contract signed on or after April 7, 2008, or;
  • Any direct funding from the NIH Intramural Program, or;
  • An NIH employee"[2]


The NIH requests that the manuscript be submitted correctly and that they be granted copyright permission to make it publicly accessible[3]

Publishers who would like to generate a profit from their research or sustain a scholarly society, may note that "public access" only takes place 12 months after publication, and the work is the final draft the author has provided.[4] PubMed Central is the designated repository for papers submitted in accordance with the NIH Public Access Policy and for those that fall under similar policies from other funding agencies.[5]

By April 2014, the NIH had increased enforcement of compliance with its Public Access Policy by having punishments for noncompliance.[6]


Peter Suber described the policy as "the first open access mandate for a major public funding agency in the United States; it is also the first one for a public funding agency anywhere in the world that was demanded by the national legislature rather than initiated and adopted independently by the agency."[7]

In 2013 a survey of persons receiving NIH funding and therefore subject to the NIH Public Access policy reported that among 94 respondents, 30% had little understanding of the NIH Public Access Policy and all but two of them said that they accepted the default terms of their copyright forms "as is".[8]

The Fair Copyright in Research Works Act was a bill sponsored by John Conyers seeking to reverse the NIH policy.[9] It was introduced in 2008 and re-introduced in 2009 but failed to leave committee either year.[10]


  1. "NIH Public Access Policy". National Health Institute.
  2. 1 2 3 "Public Access Policy". Determining applicability. National Health Institute.
  3. "Complying with the NIH Public Access Policy - Copyright Considerations and Options". The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition.
  4. Willinsky, John. "A (Publishing) House Divided: Scholarly Publishers in Support and Opposition to Public Access to Research". Slaw.
  5. "NIH Public Access & PMC". 2013. Retrieved 20 April 2013.
  6. Van Noorden, Richard (9 April 2014). "Funders punish open-access dodgers". Nature. 508 (7495): 161–161. doi:10.1038/508161a.
  7. Suber, Peter (16 April 2008). "An open access mandate for the National Institutes of Health". Open Medicine. 2 (2): e14-16. PMC 3090178Freely accessible. PMID 21602938.
  8. Charbonneau, D. H.; McGlone, J. (2013). "Faculty experiences with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) public access policy, compliance issues, and copyright practices". Journal of the Medical Library Association : JMLA. 101: 21. doi:10.3163/1536-5050.101.1.004.
  9. Suber, Peter. "A bill to overturn the NIH". Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC).
  10. "Fair Copyright in Research Works Act (2009; 111th Congress H.R. 801)".

Further reading

See also

External links

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