NIH Public Access Policy

The NIH Public Access Policy is an open access mandate, drafted in 2004 and mandated in 2008,[1] requiring that research papers describing research funded by the National Institutes of Health must be available to the public free through PubMed Central within 12 months of publication. PubMed Central is the self-archiving repository in which authors or their publishers deposit their publications. Copyright is retained by the usual holders, but authors may submit papers with one of the Creative Commons licenses.


The NIH Public Access Policy applies Division G, Title II, Section 218 of PL 110-161 (Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008) which states:[2]

"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 policy was initially implemented by the NIH as a voluntary policy in 2004.[3][4] Deposit was then mandated on January 11, 2008, effective April 7, 2008.[5][1] Later in 2008, the mandatory policy was codified into law as Division G, Title II, Section 218 of PL 110-161 (Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008).[6]


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]


Authors hold copyright in their work, and are responsible for making sure that in any agreement with a publisher they keep the right to give PubMed Central a non-exclusive license to make a copy of the paper available.[7] Journals with agreements with NIH submit final published versions of papers. For other publishers, authors are required to submit papers when they are accepted for publication.[8] The NIH grant holder is responsible for ensuring this.[9] The author, publisher, or institution continues to hold the copyright as usual.[7] The author may choose to include the article in the Open Access Subset by using one of the Creative Commons licenses.[10]

Publishers may require that "public access" be delayed up to 12 months after publication. Only the author's final draft needs to be published, not any contributions made by the publisher.[11] 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.[12]

By April 2014, the NIH had increased enforcement of compliance with its Public Access Policy by delaying continuing grant payments for noncompliance.[13]


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."[14]

In the first few years after the policy was introduced, there were two major legislative efforts to reverse it, primarily driven by some publishers' objections. According to Patrick Ross, the director of the Copyright Alliance: "The mere fact that a scientist accepts as part of her funding a federal grant should not enable the federal government to commandeer the resulting research paper and treat it as a public domain work."[15] The Fair Copyright in Research Works Act was a bill sponsored by John Conyers in 2008 and 2009 that sought to reverse the NIH policy.[16] It failed to leave committee either year.[17] In 2011 the Research Works Act was introduced to end the policy.[18] It died after protests from the academic community and science publisher Elsevier's withdrawal of support.[19]

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".[20]

See also


  1. ^ a b National Institutes of Health, "Request for Information: NIH Public Access Policy", available at ("NIH implemented the Public Access Policy on January 11, 2008.")
  2. ^ a b c d "NIH Public Access Policy Details". National Institutes of Health. 25 March 2016. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  3. ^ "Enhanced public access to NIH research information" (Notice NOT-OD-04-064, NIH Guide to Grants and Contracts, 3 September 2004).
  4. ^ Zerhouni, E. A. (2004). "INFORMATION ACCESS: NIH Public Access Policy". Science. 306 (5703): 1895. doi:10.1126/science.1106929. PMC 1808281. PMID 15591188.
  5. ^ National Institutes of Health, "Policy on Enhancing Public Access to Archived Publications Resulting from NIH-Funded Research", Feb. 3, 2005, NIH Notice Number NOT-OD-05-022.
  6. ^ National Institutes of Health, "Revised Policy on Enhancing Public Access to Archived Publications Resulting from NIH-Funded Research", Notice No. NOT-OD-08-033.
  7. ^ a b "Frequently Asked Questions about the NIH Public Access Policy". National Institutes of Health. 25 March 2014. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  8. ^ "How Papers Get Into PMC". National Institutes of Health. 7 January 2015. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  9. ^ "Complying with the NIH Public Access Policy - Copyright Considerations and Options". The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition.
  10. ^ "Open Access Subset". National Center for Biotechnology Information. 13 January 2014. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  11. ^ Willinsky, John (18 March 2009). "A (Publishing) House Divided: Scholarly Publishers in Support and Opposition to Public Access to Research". Slaw. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  12. ^ "NIH Public Access & PMC". National Center for Biotechnology Information. 26 March 2015. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  13. ^ Van Noorden, Richard (9 April 2014). "Funders punish open-access dodgers". Nature. 508 (7495): 161–161. doi:10.1038/508161a. PMID 24717489.
  14. ^ Suber, Peter (16 April 2008). "An open access mandate for the National Institutes of Health". Open Medicine. 2 (2): e14-16. PMC 3090178. PMID 21602938.
  15. ^ "Statement from Copyright Alliance Executive Director Patrick Ross re: Introduction of HR-6845, the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act". Copyright Alliance. 10 September 2008. Archived from the original on 12 October 2008.
  16. ^ Suber, Peter (October 2008). "A bill to overturn the NIH policy". SPARC Open Access Newsletter.
  17. ^ "Fair Copyright in Research Works Act (2009; 111th Congress H.R. 801)".
  18. ^ Sporkin, Andi (December 23, 2011). "Publishers Applaud "Research Works Act," Bipartisan Legislation To End Government Mandates on Private-Sector Scholarly Publishing". Association of American Publishers. Archived from the original on January 6, 2012.
  19. ^ Howard, Jennifer (27 February 2012). "Legislation to Bar Public-Access Requirement on Federal Research Is Dead". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 28 February 2012.
  20. ^ 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: 21–25. doi:10.3163/1536-5050.101.1.004. PMC 3543125. PMID 23405043.

Further reading

External links


Access2Research is a campaign in the United States for academic journal publishing reform led by open access advocates Michael W. Carroll, Heather Joseph, Mike Rossner, and John Wilbanks.On May 20, 2012, it launched a petition to the White House to "require free access over the Internet to journal articles arising from taxpayer-funded research". The White House has committed to issue an official response to such petitions if they reach 25,000 signatures within 30 days. Access2Research reached this milestone within two weeks. On February 22, 2013, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and announced an executive directive ordering all US Federal Agencies with research & development budgets over $100M to develop public access policies within twelve months.

The petition builds on previous campaigns asking scholars, publishers, funders, governments and the general public to remove paywalls to publicly funded scholarly research. It follows initiatives previously targeted at academics such as The Cost of Knowledge calling for lower prices for scholarly journals and to promote increased access to scientific information. The campaign refers to the NIH Public Access Policy as an example of a mandate that should be expanded to all federally funded research.

Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014 (H.R. 3547, nicknamed the Cromnibus) is an omnibus spending bill that packages several appropriation bills together in one larger bill. The 113th United States Congress failed to pass any of the twelve regular appropriations bills before the beginning of Fiscal Year 2014. The Continuing Appropriations Act, 2014 temporarily funded the government from October 1, 2013 to January 15, 2014. A second continuing resolution extended funding until January 18, 2014, giving both the House and the Senate enough time to vote on this bill.

Endocrine-Related Cancer

Endocrine-Related Cancer is a monthly peer-reviewed medical journal covering cancers in endocrine organs — such as the breast, prostate, pituitary, testes, ovaries, and neuroendocrine system — and hormone-dependent cancers occurring elsewhere in the body. Its scope covers basic, translational, clinical and experimental studies.

The journal is published by Bioscientifica on behalf of the Society for Endocrinology. It is also an official journal of the European Society of Endocrinology and the Japanese Hormone and Cancer Society. The editor-in-chief is Charis Eng (Cleveland Clinic) and, according to the ISI Journal Citation Reports, the journal has a 2017 impact factor of 5.331.

European Journal of Endocrinology

The European Journal of Endocrinology is a monthly peer-reviewed academic journal covering endocrinology with a focus on clinical and translational studies, research and reviews in paediatric and adult endocrinology. It is the clinical journal of the European Society of Endocrinology. The editor-in-chief is Johannes Romijn (University of Amsterdam). According to the Journal Citation Reports, the journal has a 2017 impact factor of 4.333. The journal has been published by Bioscientifica since 1999.

Fair Copyright in Research Works Act

The Fair Copyright in Research Works Act (Bill H.R 801 IH, also known as the "Conyers Bill") was submitted as a direct response to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy; intending to reverse it.

The bill's alternate name relates it to U.S Representative John Conyers (D-MI), who introduced it at the 111th United States Congress on February 3, 2009.The initiative of the bill is to amend Title 17 of the United States Code with respect to works associated with specific funding agreements. It would ultimately prohibit federal agencies from placing any conditions for copyright transfer on funding agreements; effectively making the current NIH policy illegal.

John Conyers

John James Conyers Jr. (born May 16, 1929) is an American politician of the Democratic Party who served as a U.S. Representative for Michigan from 1965 to 2017. He is now retired. The districts he represented always included part of western Detroit. During his final three terms, his district included many of Detroit's western suburbs, as well as a large portion of the Downriver area.

Conyers served more than 50 years in Congress, becoming the sixth-longest serving member of Congress in U.S. history; he is the longest-serving African American member of Congress. Conyers was the Dean of the House of Representatives. By the end of his last term, he was the last remaining member of Congress who had served since the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson.

After serving in the Korean War, Conyers became active in the civil rights movement. He also served as an aide to Congressman John Dingell before winning election to the House in 1964. He co-founded the Congressional Black Caucus in 1969 and established a reputation as one of the most liberal members of Congress. Conyers joined the liberal Congressional Progressive Caucus after it was founded in 1991. Conyers supports the creation of a single-payer healthcare system and sponsored the United States National Health Care Act to achieve that goal. He also sponsored a bill to establish Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a federal holiday. Conyers ran for Mayor of Detroit in 1989 and 1993, but he was defeated in the primary in both elections.

Conyers served as the ranking Democratic member on the House Committee on the Judiciary from 1995 to 2007 and again from 2011 to 2017. He served as chairman of that committee from 2007 to 2011 and as Chairman of the House Oversight Committee from 1989 to 1995. On November 26, 2017, he announced his intention to step aside from that position while he was investigated by the House for allegations of sexual harassment.Later in November 2017, in the wake of allegations that he had sexually harassed female staff members and secretly used taxpayer money to settle a harassment claim, the news media reported that Conyers intended to retire from Congress at the end of his current term. On December 5, 2017, Conyers announced his resignation, effective immediately, and his endorsement of his son John Conyers III to replace him in Congress. Conyers' son did not run. His grandnephew Ian Conyers was defeated in the Democratic primary by Rashida Tlaib, who won the seat in the 2018 mid-term election. Conyers' direct successor was Brenda Jones, who won a special election to serve in the two-month gap between the election and Tlaib's induction.

Journal of Endocrinology

The Journal of Endocrinology is a monthly peer-reviewed scientific journal that publishes original research articles, reviews and commentaries. Its focus is on endocrine physiology and metabolism, including hormone secretion, hormone action and biological effects. The journal considers basic and translational studies at the organ and whole organism level.

Journal of Endocrinology is published by Bioscientifica on behalf of the Society for Endocrinology. It is also an official journal of the European Society of Endocrinology and the Endocrine Society of Australia. The co-editors-in-chief are Dr Sofianos Andrikopoulos (University of Melbourne) and Dr Colin Farquharson (University of Edinburgh). According to the ISI Journal Citation Reports, the journal has a 2017 impact factor of 4.012 and is now the top basic science journal dedicated to endocrinology.

Journal of Molecular Endocrinology

The Journal of Molecular Endocrinology is a bimonthly peer-reviewed scientific journal published eight times per year. Its focus is on molecular and cellular mechanisms in endocrinology, including gene regulation, cell biology, signalling, mutations and transgenesis.

The journal is published by Bioscientifica on behalf of the Society for Endocrinology. It is also an official journal of the European Society of Endocrinology and the Endocrine Society of Australia. The co-editors-in-chief are Dr Sofianos Andrikopoulos (University of Melbourne) and Dr Colin Farquharson (University of Edinburgh). According to the ISI Journal Citation Reports, the journal has a 2017 impact factor of 3.297.

Milton J. Rosenau

Milton J. Rosenau (1869–1946) was an American public health official and professor.

National Institutes of Health

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) (; each letter separately) is the primary agency of the United States government responsible for biomedical and public health research. It was founded in the late 1870s and is now part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. The majority of NIH facilities are located in Bethesda, Maryland. The NIH conducts its own scientific research through its Intramural Research Program (IRP) and provides major biomedical research funding to non-NIH research facilities through its Extramural Research Program.

As of 2013, the IRP had 1,200 principal investigators and more than 4,000 postdoctoral fellows in basic, translational, and clinical research, being the largest biomedical research institution in the world, while, as of 2003, the extramural arm provided 28% of biomedical research funding spent annually in the U.S., or about US$26.4 billion.The NIH comprises 27 separate institutes and centers of different biomedical disciplines and is responsible for many scientific accomplishments, including the discovery of fluoride to prevent tooth decay, the use of lithium to manage bipolar disorder, and the creation of vaccines against hepatitis, Haemophilus influenzae (HIB), and human papillomavirus (HPV).

Open-access mandate

An open-access mandate is a policy adopted by a research institution, research funder, or government which requires researchers—usually university faculty or research staff and/or research grant recipients—to make their published, peer-reviewed journal articles and conference papers open access (1) by self-archiving their final, peer-reviewed drafts in a freely accessible institutional repository or disciplinary repository ("Green OA") or (2) by publishing them in an open-access journal ("Gold OA") or both.

Open access

Open access (OA) is a mechanism by which research outputs are distributed online, free of cost or other barriers, and, in its most precise meaning, with the addition of an open license applied to promote reuse.Academic articles (as historically seen in print-based academic journals) have been the main focus of the movement. Conventional (non-open access) journals cover publishing costs through access tolls such as subscriptions, site licenses or pay-per-view charges. Open access can be applied to all forms of published research output, including peer-reviewed and non peer-reviewed academic journal articles, conference papers, theses, book chapters, and monographs.

Peter Suber

Peter Dain Suber (born November 8, 1951) is a philosopher specializing in the philosophy of law and open access to knowledge. He is a Senior Researcher at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, Director of the Harvard Office for Scholarly Communication, and Director of the Harvard Open Access Project (HOAP). Suber is known as a leading voice in the open access movement, and as the creator of the game Nomic.

PubMed Central

PubMed Central (PMC) is a free digital repository that archives publicly accessible full-text scholarly articles that have been published within the biomedical and life sciences journal literature. As one of the major research databases within the suite of resources that have been developed by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), PubMed Central is much more than just a document repository. Submissions into PMC undergo an indexing and formatting procedure which results in enhanced metadata, medical ontology, and unique identifiers which all enrich the XML structured data for each article on deposit. Content within PMC can easily be interlinked to many other NCBI databases and accessed via Entrez search and retrieval systems, further enhancing the public's ability to freely discover, read and build upon this portfolio of biomedical knowledge.PubMed Central is very distinct from PubMed. PubMed Central is a free digital archive of full articles, accessible to anyone from anywhere via a web browser (with varying provisions for reuse). Conversely, although PubMed is a searchable database of biomedical citations and abstracts, the full-text article physically resides elsewhere (in print or online, free or behind a subscriber paywall).

As of December 2018, the PMC archive contained over 5.2 million articles, with contributions coming directly from publishers or authors depositing their own manuscripts into the repository per the NIH Public Access Policy. Older data shows that from Jan 2013 to Jan 2014 author-initiated deposits exceeded 103,000 papers during this 12-month period. PMC also identifies about 4,000 journals which now participate in some capacity to automatically deposit their published content into the PMC repository. Some participating publishers will delay the release of their articles on PubMed Central for a set time after publication, this is often referred to as an "embargo period", and can range from a few months to a few years depending on the journal. (Embargoes of six to twelve months are the most common.) However, PubMed Central is a key example of "systematic external distribution by a third party" which is still prohibited by the contributor agreements of many publishers.

Public comment

Public comment (or "vox populi") is a public meeting of government bodies which set aside time for public comments, usually upon documents. Such documents may either be reports such as Draft Environmental Impact Reports (DEIR's) or new regulations. There is typically a notice which is posted on the web and mailed to lists of interested parties known to the government agencies. If there is to be a change of regulations, there will be a formal notice of proposed rulemaking.

The basis for public comment is found in general political theory of constitutional democracy as originated during and after the French Enlightenment, particularly by Rousseau. This basis was elaborated in the American Revolution, and various thinkers such as Franklin, Jefferson and Thomas Paine are associated with the rejection of tyrannical, closed government decision making in favor of open government. The tradition of the New England Town Hall is believed to be rooted in this early American movement, and the distillation of formal public comment in official proceedings is a direct application of this format in the workings of public administration itself.

Research Works Act

The Research Works Act, 102 H.R. 3699, was a bill that was introduced in the United States House of Representatives at the 112th United States Congress on December 16, 2011, by Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) and co-sponsored by Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY). The bill contained provisions to prohibit open-access mandates for federally funded research and effectively revert the United States' National Institutes of Health Public Access Policy, which requires taxpayer-funded research to be freely accessible online. If enacted, it would have also severely restricted the sharing of scientific data. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, of which Issa is the chair. Similar bills were introduced in 2008 and 2009 but have not been enacted since.On February 27, 2012 Elsevier, a major publisher, announced that it was withdrawing support for the Act. Later that day, Issa and Maloney issued a statement saying that they would not push for legislative action on the bill.

Stephen A. McCarthy

Stephen Anthony McCarthy (1908 – March 18, 1990) was a notable American librarian and advocate for research libraries. As such, he was named by American Libraries as one of the 100 most influential people in Library Sciences in the last 100 years.

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