Pre-Publication PubMed Central Compliance FAQ

Training Format: How-to

The NIH Public Access Policy applies to all peer-reviewed journal manuscripts. The Policy does not apply to non-peer-reviewed materials such as correspondence, book chapters, and editorials. Contact the library if you have questions about whether your paper meets this test.

Ready to sign a publication agreement with a journal publisher?

Authors (not Fred Hutch) own the copyright to their manuscripts and are responsible for ensuring that they have sufficient rights to deposit their manuscript in PubMed Central (per the NIH Public Access Policy) and our institutional repository. Please make certain that the following rights are included in your agreement before you sign:

  • The right to deposit the final version of your manuscript in PubMed Central and an institutional repository no later than 12 months after publication.

If your author agreement does not include these rights, download and follow the instructions to complete the Amendment to Publication Agreement, which is intended to retain these rights.
Some publishers limit or restrict open access to papers published in their journals. Other publishers permit or even support open access and PubMed Central (PMC) deposit in a wide variety of ways. It is important to know what a specific publisher and journal will allow and/or do.

Library staff can help you identify and understand specific publisher open access and NIH public access policies and services. This will help you determine if and how your paper will get deposited in PMC and/or Fred Hutch's institutional repository. We'll also be able to tell you how our PMC service can mitigate those tasks for you.

Specific considerations include:

Will the publisher automatically deposit the final, published article in PMC?

Some journal publishers will deposit your article in PMC for you, at no additional fee. See the list of journals that automatically submit articles to PMC, with no need for the author to later review in NIHMS.

Will the publisher allow you (or your library) to deposit the final peer-reviewed author manuscript into PMC?

Many publishers will allow us to deposit the final, peer-reviewed manuscript in PMC, but will NOT help us do so. Library staff can advise you as to which publishers permit this and how we can help you with the deposit. Contact us at

Will publishing in an open access journal fulfill my NIH Public Access Policy obligation?

No, not necessarily. Some open access journals have agreements with NLM to directly deposit articles into PMC, but other journals do not. Only the open access journals with PMC direct deposit agreements meet your obligation for you. If you publish in an open access journal that lacks a direct deposit agreement and process, then you will be responsible for the PMC submission of your manuscript. Library staff can help you identify and determine a journal's PMC deposit status, contact us at

Should I pay an extra fee to the publisher to get immediate open access for my paper? Will it help me comply with the NIH Public Access Policy?

Some publishers now offer authors the opportunity to sponsor the immediate (upon publication) open access of their articles on the publisher's website in exchange for a fee. Depending on the specific license, paid open access may give you the right to deposit your article in PMC. Please note, though, that the publisher may or may not make the deposit for you. As of September 2008, these fees commonly range from $1,000-$3,000 per article. It is also important to note that, typically, these same publishers will allow you to make your own PMC manuscript deposit for free (subject to embargo periods). So typically, you do not have to pay these fees in order to comply with the NIH policy. Contact the library staff at for assistance in evaluating your options.

Are publisher's 'paid open access' fees allowable on a federal grant?

These types of costs are allowable on federal grants.

Can publication costs be charged to a federal award after it expires?

This is only allowable if the federal award is subject to Uniform Guidance.  If costs for publication or sharing of research results are not incurred during the award period, such costs may now be charged anytime within the 90 day closeout period of the award end date for federal awards subject to Uniform Guidance.  If any problems arise while trying to post publication costs during the closeout window, please contact your OSR grant specialist.  

Even if these 'paid open access' publication costs were not specifically requested in the application's budget?

Per the NIH policy you can rebudget from other categories to pay for publication expenses. Here is the language from the published policy (NOT-OD-05-022):

NIH-funded investigators are expected to make the results and accomplishments of their activities available to the research community and to the public at large. Consequently, NIH considers publication costs, which include fees charged by a publisher, such as color and page charges, or fees for digital distribution, to be allowable charges to NIH research awards.

Generally, page charges for publications in professional journals are allowable, if the published paper reports work supported by the grant and the charges are levied impartially on all papers published by the journal, whether or not they are submitted by government-sponsored authors. As with all other costs, NIH expects its investigators to be careful stewards of Federal funds and to manage these resources appropriately. Grantees may rebudget funds to support these costs, but NIH will consider all other options to ensure that budgets are not affected unduly which should be achievable given the voluntary nature of this request.

Can these costs be allocated across several awards?

Provided there is an accurate methodology to allocate across the awards, this would be allowed.

For those articles where multiple grants have been cited, and the PI would like to allocate these costs across those multiple awards, is the PI, or her research coordinator, required to provide OSR, or keep for her own files, documentation supporting how costs were allocated?

The documentation can reside with the PI or research coordinator.

Does my grant cover paid, immediate open access or other publishing fees?

Check with the Office of Sponsored Research staff.