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Author's Corner: NIH Public Access FAQs

Writing, publishing and sharing resources for Fred Hutch authors.

Frequently Asked Questions

The following are a collection of some of the more common questions and concerns the library has experienced.  For an expanded list of questions related to the NIH Public Access Policy, visit the NIHPA FAQ page.

What is the final peer-reviewed manuscript?

  • This is an author-created version of the manuscript as accepted for publication, that incorporates all edits made during the peer-review process but will not have undergone any formatting by the journal/publisher.

To what types of papers does the policy apply?

  • The policy applies to any peer-reviewed journal article that was also NIH-funded.  While NIH used to include language in their FAQs to exclude editorials, reviews, etc, it has been our experience that these types of publications can be peer-reviewed, in which case the Policy would apply.  If there is any doubt, the library recommends that you move forward with the submission of a paper.

Does the policy apply to book chapters and dissertations?

  • No, the policy only applies to peer-reviewed journal manuscripts.  A journal is defined as a publication that is published in successive parts for an indefinite time frame and has an ISSN (International Standard Serial Number.)

What is the difference between a PubMed ID and PubMed Central ID?

  • The PubMed Central reference number (PMCID) is different from the PubMed reference number (PMID). PubMed Central is an index of full-text papers, while PubMed is an index of abstracts. The PMCID links to full-text papers in PubMed Central, while the PMID links to abstracts in PubMed. PMIDs have nothing to do with the NIH Public Access Policy.  
  • Example of a PubMed ID and corresponding PMCID:
    • PMID:23049819 and PMCID:PMC3458919

How long does it take to get a PMCID?

  • According to communications from NIHMS, it takes 6-8 weeks for a paper to move from the initial submission and PDF approval to the point of PMCID assignment.  However, it has been the library's experience that this process takes longer with most papers moving through the process in 8-12 weeks. It is critical that the reviewing author closely monitor their email for notifications from NIHMS to ensure these are completed in a timely process.

My paper was published by a journal by Publisher X under Method D but the NIHMSID/PMCID is not yet available, what should I do?

  • Contact the library.  It may be that the publisher is unaware that the paper was NIH-funded and we can notify them of this information which should trigger the submission.  Many journals/publishers have specific methods for indicating NIH-funding which are not always obvious during the publication submission process.

Who is responsible for completing the review and approval steps in NIHMS which are necessary for obtaining a PMCID?

  • This can depend.  If a paper is submitted by a publisher under Method D, it is generally the corresponding author who is selected as the approving/reviewing author.  If a paper is submitted by an author, or third party, any author or grantee on the paper can be chosen as the approving/reviewing author.  The only requirement is that they have an eRA Commons account.

The corresponding author is in Europe and I'm afraid they are responsible for NIHMS approval/review, what should I do?

  • Contact the library.  We can help you correspond with your co-authors to confirm whether they are able to complete the necessary approval/review steps.  If they can't, or are unwilling, we can contact NIHMS and request that the reviewing/approving author be changed to yourself or another author/awardee.
  • If an author or awardee is not the reviewing/approving author but they would like to take over the approval and review responsibilities on a stalled submission, NIHMS has implemented mechanisms for this to take place.  If you have a grant that has been associated with the paper in NIHMS, you can use the "Claim Manuscript" button which displays under the article summary in NIHMS.  The original reviewer will have one week to reject this request, after which you can take over these responsibilities.  If you are an author but do not have any grants associated in NIHMS, you can use the "Watch Manuscript" button available in NIHMS to associate yourself with the paper.  Once the watch request is approved, you will have the option to "claim" the manuscript and take over reviewing and approving duties.  For more information on these steps, visit the NIHMS FAQ.

My paper have an out-of-date NIHMSID but my grant is due, can NIHMS "rush" the review steps by request?

  • It has been the experience of the library that this is not possible.  NIHMS works strictly from their Manuscript Submission System queue and we have been unable to move papers ahead in this system, regardless of the urgency of the request.  For this reason, it is critical that authors work with the library to ensure their papers are submitted to NIHMS at acceptance for publication, so that all necessary steps can occur in a timely fashion.

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