Step-by-Step Guide for Complying with the NIH Public Access Policy of 2008

Effective April 7, 2008 for all Active Grants

There are four actions an NIH funded author needs to take when publishing an article:

  1. Send a cover letter about the NIH policy when you submit an article.
  2. Sign and attach the MIT amendment to the publisher copyright agreement.
  3. Ensure that your final, peer-reviewed manuscript is submitted to PubMed Central (PMC) and that you have the PMC reference number for the article.
  4. Retain copies of all amended copyright transfer agreements and all final peer-reviewed manuscripts.

More detail about each of these steps:

When Submitting Manuscript to Publisher: Include Cover Letter to Alert Publisher

Attach MIT’s cover letter explaining that the article is subject to the NIH Public Access Policy and that the author will need to retain certain rights in order to comply with the policy.

There are two versions of the letter. You can choose either one:

  • One offers language that focuses solely on compliance with the NIH policy.  See “limited” cover letter [Word].
  • The other offers language that expands the focus to include rights you as an author and MIT as an institution would like to have – to flexibly reuse your work in teaching, research, and future publications as well as posting on the web. See “full” cover letter [Word].

When Article is Accepted for Publication

I. Check PubMed Central’s list of partner publishers

  • If the title you are submitting to is on the partners list, you may skip to the section IV below on “PubMed Central Reference Numbers.” (You may still find it beneficial to follow the next steps, regarding the publication agreement.)
  • If the title is not on the partners list,you should attach MIT’s amendment to the publisher’s copyright or publication agreement. You may need to print the publisher’s agreement off of the publisher’s website.
    • MIT offers authors two versions of an amendment to publisher agreements whose language allows MIT authors to comply with the new NIH policy.
      • One focuses solely on compliance with the NIH policy.  See “limited” version [Word] – MIT only.
      • The other supports NIH compliance, but also retains rights for you and MIT to flexibly reuse your work in teaching, research, and future publications as well as posting on the web.  See “full version” – Word or PDF.
    • Whichever version you choose, above your signature on the publisher’s agreement, write “Subject to the attached amendment,” and sign and attach the amendment. Retain a copy.

II. Evaluating publisher open access fee option

  • There are two kinds of costs that might be associated with publishing an article in compliance with the NIH policy:
    • Some open access journals (such as PLoS Biology) charge article processing fees.
    • Traditional (subscription-based) journals may suggest NIH funded authors elect their open access option to comply with the NIH policy. This option normally involves a charge of $1000 to $5000 per article.
  • Authors should be aware of three points related to these fees:
    • NIH will allow PIs to pay open access publication costs from grant funds, though NIH is not budgeting additional funds for this purpose.
    • MIT will not absorb these costs.
    • Authors should not feel obliged to pay a traditional subscription journal an additional open access fee. You may opt to submit the MIT amendment and request that the publisher comply, without participating in a paid open access program.
  • If you choose to pay an open access fee in one of the particular publisher programs, you may skip to section IV, below.

III. Ensuring Submission to PubMed Central

  • Submitting to PMC is required even if you publish in an open access journal, or if the article is freely accessible on the publisher’s website. There are three possible paths through which such submission can take place, depending on the journal in which you are publishing:
    • PUBLISHER IS PMC PARTNER, SUBMITS FOR AUTHOR: NO AUTHOR ACTION NEEDED. Some journals have a contractual agreement with PMC to submit the final published version of the article to PubMed Central on their authors’ behalf.
    • PUBLISHER PROMISES TO SUBMIT NIH-FUNDED ARTICLES: AUTHOR MUST APPROVE. Some journals promise to submit the final peer-reviewed manuscript for the author if the work reported on is funded by the NIH.
      • These journals will ask the author about NIH funding when the article is submitted. If the author indicates NIH funding, the publisher promises to submit the article to PubMed Central for the author.
      • Except in the cases of publishers who participate in NIH’s “Open Access” program, the author (or the principal investigator named on the appropriate grant if that is someone other than the author) will still need to review the article when and as submitted by the journal to PubMed Central, and sign off on its accuracy and completeness. The NIH Manuscript Submission System (NIHMS) will send out an email message asking you to approve the submission and release of the manuscript.
      • This approval will be required before a PubMed Central reference number is issued, and the reference number will be needed for progress reports and applications.
      • NIH maintains a list of publishers for which this approval step will not be needed, if the author chooses the open access fee option for these publishers.
    • PUBLISHER DOES NOT SUBMIT: AUTHOR MUST SUBMIT AND APPROVE. Some journals have made no arrangements to submit to PubMed Central for authors.
      • If the journal is not on PMC’s partner list and does not have a special arrangement for NIH-funded authors, then the author needs to submit the final peer-reviewed manuscript using the NIH’s Manuscript Submission System.
      • The author will still need to review the article after PubMed Central formats it, and sign off on its accuracy and completeness. The NIH Manuscript Submission System (NIHMS) will send out an email message asking you to approve the submission and release of the manuscript.
      • The author (or the principal investigator named on the appropriate grant if that is someone other than the author) will also need to review the article and verify/approve it through the same system in order to have a PubMed Central reference number issued. The reference number will be needed for progress reports and applications.
  • In all cases, authors should retain a copy of their final peer-reviewed manuscript and all supplemental material.

IV. PubMed Central Reference Numbers

  • Authors and PIs should collect PubMed Central reference numbers for their articles. If they deposit an article to PMC themselves, they should also collect NIH Manuscript Submission System reference numbers as proof of deposit.
  • As of May 25, 2008, these numbers will be required in all progress reports, proposals, and grant applications when citing papers that arose from your NIH award.
  • NIH Manuscript Submission System Reference numbers (NIHMS IDs) will be supplied to authors via email from the NIHMS system, when they are asked to approve the submission and release of the manuscript. These will be important to use as references prior to the point that the article appears publicly in PMC.
  • If the publisher partners with PMC, no NIHMS ID will be created. Authors should instead reference the PMCID, but this will be available only if the article is publicly visible in PMC (see next bullet). For articles published by partner publishers which are not yet publicly visible in PMC, authors should indicate “the PMC ID is not yet available.” (New instructions for this situation are expected in late April or May 2008.)
  • PubMedCentral Reference Numbers (PMCIDs) can be found in three ways:
    • By searching PubMed and looking at the end of the abstract.
    • By searching PubMed Central and looking at the end of the citation, if the article is publicly available.
    • By searching PubMed Central and looking near the top of the fulltext of the article, if the article is publicly available.

For Questions or Support Using the MIT Amendment:

Contact: copyright-lib@mit.edu