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NIH Public Access Policy: Address Copyright

The information in this guide will help with several of the compliance issues that University of Pennsylvania authors will need to address and is organized around three steps to compliance: addressing copyright, submitting to PMC and citing PMCIDs in NIH

Copyright Agreement

Authors need to ensure that any copyright agreement between themselves and their publisher permits the submission of the author's manuscript to PubMed Central. At this time, most publishers acknowledge an author's right to submit the final peer-reviewed manuscript to PMC in order to comply with the policy. Further, many publishers will submit the final published version to PMC automatically for you.

1. Check whether the journal you will publish in is on the list of journals that submits to PMC automatically on your behalf.
2. If the journal you will publish in is not found there, you can review the policies of publishers that do not submit final published articles to PMC for policy details regarding what you can submit and when the paper may be made public in PMC following publication. The SHERPA RoMEO database also collects publisher/journal copyright and self-archiving policies if further information is needed.

3. For publishers that do not explicitly allow deposit in PMC, the NIH provides the following example of language that could be added to a copyright agreement,

“Journal acknowledges that Author retains the right to provide a copy of the final peer-reviewed manuscript to the NIH upon acceptance for Journal publication, for public archiving in PubMed Central as soon as possible but no later than 12 months after publication by Journal.”

In addition, the University of Pennsylvania's Office of Research Services has provided a Suggested Cover Letter for a Corresponding Author to use with Journal Submissions*.

*This letter was adapted from Appendix A of the whitepaper “Complying with the National Institutes of Health Public Access Policy: Copyright considerations and options” 2008, by Michael W. Carroll. Available for free download at

More Information


Open Access

  • You may also want to consider publishing in a Open Access journal. You can find an authoritative list of such journals through the Directory of Open Access Journals.


  • Consider consulting PubsHub for more detail about journals, including information for authors, impact factor, rejection rates, and time to acceptance.
  • Additional resources for journal selection may be found here.