Public access to important research findings begins with the investigator


Published May 2, 2019


by Erin Bailey, MSM

“Advancing research discoveries to improve health for all” are eight words that describe the focus of the CTSI. The NIH public access policy requires that all NIH-funded investigators submit an electronic version of their final published peer-reviewed manuscript to PubMed Central so that it can be included in its digital archive. This policy ensures that the public has access to the published NIH-funded research discoveries to advance science and improve health.

CTSI Chief Financial Officer Erin Bailey, MSM, and CTSI Research Administrator Erin O’Byrne, MBA provide leadership within the CTSI for publication compliance and have conducted multiple Open Research Office workshops and technical assistance sessions on this topic. FAQs and links to NIH resources will guide investigators in meeting the NIH requirements.

1)    What is the difference between the PMID and the PMCID?

PubMed is an index of abstracts (with PMID numbers). PubMed Central is NIH’s electronic index of full-text papers (with PMCID numbers) which provides no-cost public access to manuscripts. It is the PMCID number that is mandatory to comply with the NIH Public Access Policy. The PMCID number is required for every paper that is cited in an NIH application, proposal or progress report if the paper is authored by the investigator or arose from NIH funds.

2)    How do I know if my publication is compliant?

If a progress report is due to the NIH and a PMCID has not been assigned, the PI has not met the terms and conditions of the grant. Non-compliance can delay or prevent future NIH funding. It is incumbent on the PI (or publisher/author) to figure out where the process of assigning the PMCID was interrupted.

If the PMCID is not present below the abstract and no awards are listed under grant support, it's likely that compliance steps have not been completed. If the journal submits the article, contact the journal with the citation information and ask them to submit the article to the NIHMS as soon as possible. If the author submits, contact the corresponding author to get the final author version of the manuscript (the revised version after peer review). This is the version that will be submitted to the NIHMS unless the journal specifically gives permission to submit the published article.  

3)    Where do I begin?

There are four methods for submitting a paper to PubMed Central; the method is dependent on the journal and/or the publisher.

Method A – Some journals automatically post NIH supported papers directly to PMC. These journals must be on the approved journal list.

Method B – Authors must make special arrangements for some journals and publishers to post paper directly to PMC. The journal may charge a fee for these services.

Method C – Author or designee must submit manuscript to the NIHMS.

Method D – Some publishers will submit manuscript to the NIHMS.

If the PMCID is present, check that the paper is listed in My Bibliography and has a "complete" compliance status.

4)    What if I have more questions?

There are several NIH websites, each with Frequently Asked Questions and/or training videos.

NIH Public Access Policy Includes general Information, scope of policy, how to comply with the policy, what needs to be submitted and policy background

NIH Manuscript Submission (NIHMS) Includes NIHMS Process as illustrated below.

My Bibliography Includes creating a bibliography, viewing/downloading citations, sorting citations, deleting citations, managing compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy, searching My Bibliography

5)    When would a paper not need a PMCID number?

If the paper was not peer reviewed, was accepted for publication before April 7, 2008, is printed in a script other than Latin (Korean, Russian) and was not directly supported by NIH funds active in FY08 or after, a PMCID number is not required.

If you have questions, contact Erin Bailey or Erin O'Byrne