Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

NIH Public Access Policy: Submit to PMC

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

There Are Four Submission Methods


Method AJournal deposits final published articles in PubMed Central without author involvement
Publish your article in a journal that automatically submits to PMC. If you use this method, tasks related to the submission step of compliance will be completed for you by the publisher. You are, however, still responsible for locating the PMCID of the article once it has been assigned. For a listing of journals that submit for you, click here.

Method B: Author asks publisher to deposit specific final published article in PMC
Make arrangements to have a publisher deposit a specific final published article in PMC. Submission to PMC is free, but some publishers will charge a fee to do this for you. Paying the publisher is not necessary if you or a third party submit the manuscript yourself (via Method C). For a listing of publishers that will support authors using method B, click here.

For Methods C & D
NIH Manuscript Submission System

Method CAuthor deposits final peer-reviewed manuscript in PMC via the NIHMS
Deposit the final peer-reviewed manuscript in PMC yourself via the NIH Manuscript Submission System (NIHMS). This system is easy to use and submission can be done by the author or a third party in your lab or department.  Check selected publishers' policies or Sherpa-Romeo.

Method D: Author completes submission of final peer-reviewed manuscript deposited by publisher in the NIHMS
This is a variation of method C. In this case, the publisher submits the manuscript to NIHMS along with your contact information. NIHMS will contact you when the submission has been received by them. You are responsible for all approval tasks related to NIHMS processing following the initial deposit by the publisher. Click here for a list of publishers that submit via this method.

For a list of publishers and their specific policies on submission of final peer-reviewed manuscripts (Methods B, C & D), click here.

Note: Regardless of the submission method used, you are still required to cite PMCIDs in NIH documents. For more information on this step of compliance see the section on citing PMCIDs.


Method A
Journal deposits final published articles in PubMed Central without author involvement
Method B
Author asks publisher to deposit specific final published article in PMC
Method C 
Author deposits final peer-reviewed manuscript in PMC via the NIHMS
Method D
Author completes submission of final peer-reviewed manuscript deposited by publisher in the NIHMS
Version of Paper Submitted Final Published Article Final Published Article Final Peer-reviewed Manuscript Final Peer-reviewed Manuscript
Task 1: Who starts the deposit process? Publisher Publisher Author or designee, via NIHMS Publisher

Task 2: Who approves paper for processing?
Publisher Publisher Author, via NIHMS Author, via NIHMS
Task 3: Who approves paper for Pub Med Central display? Publisher Publisher Author, via NIHMS Author, via NIHMS

Participating journal/publisher
Method A Journals Make arrangements with these publishers Check publishing agreement or Sherpa-Romeo. Make arrangements with these publishers

Who is Responsible?

NIH Awardee NIH Awardee NIH Awardee NIH Awardee

*Adapted from NIH Public Access Policy site


  1. Start at the NIH Manuscript Submission System website:
  2. Log in via your eRA Commons login and password (PIs should be familiar with this system).
  3. Provide the name of the journal and article title.
  4. Select the corresponding NIH grant number from a list of your NIH grants that will be presented.
  5. Next you may begin uploading files to the system. You will load a copy of the last post-review version of your paper, as well as any tables, figures, etc. (anything that was sent to the publisher). You will need to identify whether the file is for Figure 1, Table 3, etc.
  6. The system will generate a multiple page PDF with all the files that were submitted in a collated format.
  7. Verify all information input and steps are done correctly, and set your embargo period (no embargo, 6 months, 12 months....).
  8. The Principal Investigator will get an email, asking them to verify that the web version (XML standardized format) that was created by the NIH Manuscript Submission System is correct. The PI will need to review this document and submit any corrections that may be needed.

*Adapted from The University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign Library Guide to the NIH Public Access Mandate


An individual other than the Principal investigator may also complete steps 1-7, above. This may be a research assistant, team member or other designated party.

  1. The proxy will login via a MyNCBI account, rather than through the eRA Commons account. (Register for a MyNCBI account.)
  2. The proxy will need to have all the necessary information -- journal title, article title, grant number, PI's name. And will also need the necessary files and the identity of the files (Step 5, above).
  3. The Principal Investigator will still be responsible for approving and signing off on the final version of the article (Step #8, above).

*Adapted from The University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign Library Guide to the NIH Public Access Mandate

What do I submit?

Why am I asked to deposit the final peer-reviewed manuscript, rather than the final published article?

The NIH Public Access Policy requires that you deposit the final peer-reviewed manuscript. However, the final published article is also accepted if you have the rights to submit it.

  • The final peer-reviewed manuscript is the final version of a paper that includes all changes resulting from the peer-review process and has been accepted for publication.
  • The final published article is the authoritative copy of the paper published in the journal, including copy and format modifications.



Who's responsible?

Ultimately, who is responsible for submission of articles to PMC?

As it can potentially delay or prevent funding of awards, non-compliance can impact institutions, principal investigators and other researchers whose work is funded by the award. It is however, the responsibility of the primary awardee for ensuring that the terms and conditions of an award are met.

This means that all peer-reviewed articles resulting from the grant should be deposited in PMC, including papers authored by sub-recipients. As PI, you may be responsible for ensuring that papers not authored by you, but resulting from your award, are deposited as well.

It is important to note that even if a third party - i.e. a publisher - has been tasked with submitting an article to PMC, they are not responsible for ensuring compliance with the policy and responsibility ultimately lies with the award recipients.