Details of Revised NIH Public Access Policy Published

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), as previously reported, was directed by new legislation to mandate open access to all peer-reviewed journal articles published as a result of NIH grant funds, through PubMed Central, the digital archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature. NIH has now revised its home page, FAQ, and Public Access Policy, describing the new mandatory submission process.

Details that may be of interest to the MIT community:

  • Timing: The policy applies to all peer-reviewed articles that are accepted for publication on or after April 7, 2008.
  • Publisher Agreements and Copyright: From the FAQ: “Authors should work with the publisher before any rights are transferred to ensure that all conditions of the NIH Public Access Policy can be met. Authors should avoid signing any agreements with publishers that do not allow the author to comply with the NIH Public Access Policy.”
  • Amending Agreements: Authors should be aware that if a journal presents them with a copyright transfer agreement, they need not use the form as presented. They should attach a revision to the transfer agreement that makes the contract compliant with NIH requirements. MIT offers authors such an amendment to publisher agreements whose language allows MIT authors to comply with the new NIH policy. Authors simply indicate that the agreement is subject to the amendment, and sign and attach the amendment.
  • While NIH suggests some possible language that can be used to modify a publisher’s agreement, this language is provided simply as an example. Use of either the MIT amendment or one of the other addendum options included in the drop-down list on the MIT amendment page offers a complete, convenient, and sound means of complying with the policy.
  • The new policy does not change the author’s copyrights’ status. The author can still “assign [copyrights] to journals, subject to the limited right that must be retained…to post the works in accordance with the Policy” in PubMed Central.
  • Submitting 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. Principal Investigators (PIs) and authors can check a list of participating journals that will submit manuscripts to PubMedCentral on their behalf, and should not accept publishers promises to submit if the journal title is not on this list. If a title is not on the list, the author should be sure to reserve the rights to deposit directly. In all cases, authors should retain a copy of their final peer-reviewed manuscript and all supplemental material. Even if a journal is on the list, authors will need to review the article as submitted by the journal to PubMed Central, and sign off on its accuracy and completeness. This will be required before a PubMed Central reference number is issued, and that number will be needed for progress reports and applications.
  • PubMedCentral Reference Numbers: Authors and PIs should be begin collecting PubMedCentral reference numbers as well as NIH Manuscript Submission System reference numbers as proof of deposit, as these will be required for all future progress reports, and grant applications.
  • Publication Costs: NIH will allow PIs to pay open access publication costs from grant funds, though NIH is not budgeting additional funds for this purpose.

For further information about the new NIH policy, or using the MIT amendment, please consult the Scholarly Publication website, or contact