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More on the NIH Public Access Policy

The NIH Public Access Policy was signed into law at the end of 2007. This new law grew out of a 2005 NIH request that researchers submit final versions of their published manuscripts to PubMed Central. As of April 7, submitting manuscripts to PubMed Central is no longer a request; now it is a requirement. The goal was and is to extend public access to publicly funded research literature.

Complying with the policy is a three-step process. When submitting articles for publication, principal investigators on NIH-funded research projects are required to:

  1. Address copyright issues by making sure journal publication agreements allow for submission to NIH.
  2. Submit articles to PubMed Central using the NIH Manuscript Submission System.
  3. Cite PubMed Central identification numbers for articles referenced in NIH grant applications, proposals, and progress reports (required beginning May 25).

Even if NIH-funded researchers are not among your library’s primary clientele, it is important for you to be aware of how much and what types of literature will eventually be made public as a result of this policy. Developments in scholarly publishing and open access have critical implications for all types of libraries.

MLA’s November 2007 webcast “Scholarly Publishing and Open Access: Straight Talk” provides an excellent overview of the key issues and controversies. The DVD and participant manual are now available in the Lending Library for NN/LM PNR network members. To borrow either or both, please send e-mail to

Additional Resources:

Web guides from the University of Washington and Oregon Health & Science University
SPARC brochure – Information for Authors
History of Dragonfly updates on this topic –

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