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Upcoming Changes to NIH Public Access Policy

– Reporting Requirements and Related NIH Efforts to Enhance Compliance

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The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy enables free public access to published results of NIH funded research through the PubMed Central digital archive. This archive began operating in 2000 with content from just two journals. It now contains over 1200 journals; boasts over 2.6 million articles; and, is fully linked to searches generated in PubMed.

If your institution receives NIH funding, it’s important that all parties in the research process – including librarians – understand how to comply with this policy.

The NIH policy will see changes in the spring of 2013. Since 2008, the NIH has focused much of their attention on outreach to the grantee community. This strategy, along with the research community’s shared commitment to making public the results of NIH-supported research, has resulted in a high level of compliance with the policy. However, public access is a statutory requirement and improvement in compliance is needed.

The NIH will begin to hold processing of non-competing continuation grant awards if publications arising from that award are not in compliance with the NIH public access policy. Once publications are in compliance, awards will go forward. This change will take effect in tandem with NIH requiring the use of the Research Performance Progress Report (RPPRs) for all Streamlined Non-competing Award Process (SNAP) and Fellowship awards in the spring of 2013 (see NIH guide notice NOT-OD-12-142).

For those who need a larger spoon to ingest the alphabet soup of acronyms:

  • The RPPRs is an annual document describing the research accomplishments and compliance with the funding award.
  • The SNAP was initiated back in 1995 to make the grant submission process easier by eliminating the number of required documents.
  • Fellowship awards offered by the NIH are competitive programs that help to ensure a diverse pool of highly qualified scientists receive support to conduct research.

For more information, please visit

– Dana Abbey, Colorado/Health Information Literacy Coordinator

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