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NIH Public Access Policy

Tips to Stay Compliant

Start Early: Begin the process of depositing your manuscript to PMC immediately upon receiving approval for publication.  Starting this early will help ensure that you have enough time to go through the process and do not fall out of compliance.

Know Your Method: Different journals will follow different Submission Methods.  Find out which method your journal follows early on to help make sure you know your responsibilities.  See below for more details.

Set Up Your Accounts: Get your MyNCBI and eRA Commons accounts linked up so that you can track your compliance status easily.


What is NIHMS?

NIHMS stands for the NIH Manuscript Submissions system.  This is the system used by the NIH to accept and process final, peer-reviewed manuscripts and facilitate Submission Methods C and D below.

Submission Methods

What are the different submission methods possible?

There are 4 different methods that you may follow to submit your manuscript and begin the compliance process:

Method A Journals following Method A will automatically submit all manuscripts that arise from NIH funding directly to PMC on your behalf.
Method B Journals following Method B will submit NIH funded manuscripts directly to PMC on your behalf, but you must first make special arrangements for them to do so.  This is typically done through a fee, such as an open access publication fee or an article processing charge.
Method C Journals following Method C require that the author manage all aspects of the submission process, including submitting the manuscript to NIHMS in order to be processed for PMC.
Method D Journals following Method D will deposit the manuscript into the NIHMS system, but then the author must complete the process and perform all approvals.
TIP: It is important that you determine which method the journal you are publishing in follows early in the submission and publication process to help you understand what your responsibilities will be.


The NIH Public Access Policy website provides searchable lists of journals that follow each of the methods.

For more details on the different submission methods possible, including links to journal lists, please check out the following link:

Manuscript Versions

What are the different manuscript versions and what do they mean?

When talking about the different submission methods, the NIH references two different manuscript versions.  Technically, the law only requires that the final peer-reviewed article be made publicly available, but some publishers will go a step further and release the final published article.

It is important to know which version you (or the journal on your behalf) will be submitting and understand the differences between them.

Final Published Article
  • "Version of Record"
  • Journal's authoritative version of the article
  • Includes the journal's copy-editing, formatting, and stylistic enhancements (these are the intellectual property of the journal)
  • Used in Submission Methods A & B
  • Submitted by the journal on your behalf, unless you are granted specific permissions to submit it yourself (very rare circumstances)
Final Peer-Reviewed Article
  • Author's final version
  • Includes all edits and modifications from the peer-review process, but has not yet been formatted for publication
  • Used in Submission Methods C & D
  • Submitted by the journal or the author, depending on the method