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Managing NIH Public Access Compliance: Definitions

This guide explains the NIH Public Access Policy, the process for submitting peer-reviewed articles to PubMed Central and how to use NIH tools to manage and verify compliance.

Don't be confused

confused?Here are some key definitions to help you keep things straight.


The NIH Manuscript Submission (NIHMS) system allows you to submit an electronic version of your peer-reviewed final manuscript for inclusion in PubMed Central.

Once submitted, your article will receive an NIHMSID # for tracking purposes.

NIH Public Access Policy vs Open Access

NIH Public Access Policy:
Requirement to submit the final, peer-reviewed manuscripts of NIH-funded research to PubMed Central (PMC). 

Open Access (OA):
Literature that is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.

PubMed Central vs PubMed

PubMed Central (PMC)
NLM's digital, open access archive of full-text, peer-reviewed journal articles.
Unique identifier: PMCID

Database of biomedical journal citations, abstracts and links to selected full text articles, including those in PubMed Central.
Unique identifier: PMID

Final Published Version vs. Final Peer-Reviewed Manuscript

Final Peer-Reviewed Manuscript
Author’s final manuscript accepted for journal publication after peer-review:

  • Includes all modifications from the peer review process
  • Electronic files of text, figures, tables, etc.
  • May be submitted by Authors & Publishers

Final Published Article
Journal’s formatted, authoritative copy of the paper as published:

  • Includes all modifications from peer review and the publishing process: copyediting, stylistic edits, and formatting changes
  • May be submitted by Publishers/Journals only