NIH Announces Public Access Policy Enforcement

On November 16, 2012, the National Institutes of Health announced that beginning spring 2013 at the earliest, NIH will begin delaying the processing of non-competing continuation grant awards if publications arising from that award are not in compliance with the NIH public access policy. Awards will not be processed until publications are in compliance. (NOT-OD-12-160)

What is the NIH Public Access Policy?

The NIH Public Access Policy implements Division G, Title II, Section 218 of PL 110-161 (Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008).  The law states:

“The Director of the National Institutes of Health shall require that all investigators funded by the NIH submit or have submitted for them to the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed Central an electronic version of their final, peer-reviewed manuscripts upon acceptance for publication, to be made publicly available no later than 12 months after the official date of publication: Provided, That the NIH shall implement the public access policy in a manner consistent with copyright law.”

The Public Access Policy ensures that the public has access to the published results of NIH-funded research. It requires scientists to submit final peer-reviewed journal manuscripts that arise from NIH funds to the digital archive PubMed Central. The Policy requires that these final peer-reviewed manuscripts be accessible to the public on PubMed Central to help advance science and improve human health.

Does the NIH Public Access Policy apply to my paper?

The NIH Public Access Policy applies to any peer-reviewed manuscript that is accepted for publication in a journal on or after April 7, 2008 and arises from:

  • Any direct funding from an NIH grant or cooperative agreement active in Fiscal Year 2008 or later OR
  • Any direct funding from an NIH contract signed on or after April 7, 2008 OR
  • Any direct fuding from the NIH Intramural Program OR
  • An NIH employee

Principle Investigators and their institutions are responsible for ensuring all terms and conditions of awards are met, including the submission of final peer-reviewed manuscripts that arise directly from their awards, even if they are not an author or co-author of the paper.

How are papers submitted to PubMed Central?

NIH has agreements with over 1500 journals to automatically deposit final articles into PubMed Central without author involvement. Detailed information about the submission process is available at the National Institutes of Health Public Access site.

How do I avoid delays in funding?

  • Use My NCBI’s “My Bibliography” feature to ensure all papers linked with your NIH award are in compliance.
  • When planning an NIH-funded paper, ensure that arrangements are made for the paper to be submitted to PubMed Central. If there are multiple authors, only one need submit it, though it is the Principal Investigator’s responsibility to ensure compliance.
  • You may wish to let publishers know a manuscript is subject to the NIH Public Access Policy before the publisher decides to review it to avoid miscommunication.
If you have questions about NIH requirements, the Data Management team is here to help! Please email
All of the information provided comes from and Rockey, Sally. National Institutes of Health, “Extramural Nexus: Improving Public Access to Research Results.”

November Highlight on Data Repositories: ICPSR

This month, we’d like to highlight the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR):

What is ICPSR?

ICPSR was founded in 1962 at the University of Michigan and now exists as a unit within the Institute for Social Research. It is the world’s largest social science data archive, with over 7,000 data collections and 500,000 individual data files that can be browsed by topic or searched. As of fall 2012, it has over 700 member institutions, including the University of Texas at Austin. Data is contributed by individual researchers, government agencies, and research organizations. ICPSR maintains a citation database of data-related literature to facilitate literature searches and the study of data as intellectual output. It is an international leader in data management and digital preservation dedicated to ensuring long-term usability of data.

How does deposit work?

Deposits must include all data and documentation necessary to read and interpret the data collection. For researchers interested in depositing their data, ICPSR’s Guide to Social Science Data Preparation and Archiving describes best practice for preparing data to be shared. ICPSR offers a secure electronic deposit form for researchers to upload and describe their data. More information about deposit is available here. Once data are submitted, data processors review data for confidentiality issues, convert documentation to electronic, PDF/A form, generate multiple data formats for dissemination and preservation, create Data Documentation Initiative-compliant documentation, create a descriptive metadata record, and assign the dataset a Digital Object Identifier. Once deposited, dataset usage can then be tracked through Utilization Reports.

What can be deposited?

Using the online secure deposit form, up to 2 GB can be uploaded. Preferred file formats are as follows:

  • Quantitative data files: SPSS, SAS, Stata
  • Qualitative data files: ASCII, RTF
  • Audio files: AIFF, WAV
  • Video files: MPEG4, JPEG2000
  • Documentation: ASCII, DDI-XML, Microsoft Word (PDF is acceptable)

How does ICPSR manage sensitive data and confidentiality?

ICPSR offers several deposit options for sensitive data.

For traditional restricted data, researchers interested in using the data must belong to membership institutions and fill out an application about their research. These requests will then be reviewed by ICPSR staff to ensure all security requirements have been fulfilled and the data will be sent via mail on a CD/DVD. For an additional layer of security, ICPSR can send information to an external body for review if necessary.

For highly sensitive data, data can be restricted to only on-site analysis at the University of Michigan’s Perry Building enclave. Investigators wishing to use materials restricted in this fashion must sign an Application for Use of the ICPSR Data Enclave and Confidentiality Agreement along with an official of their home institution. At the enclave, only the provided computer can be used and materials are reviewed for disclosure risk before leaving. All analysis output is evaluated by an ICPSR unit manager and sent to the researcher on a CD/DVD at after approval.

For simple analysis of sensitive data, ICPSR offers the Survey Documentation and Analysis statistical package that can evaluate output for disclosure risk before displaying it to the end user. More information is available here.

ICPSR will preserve data under a delayed dissemination model if necessary. They will preserve data until a predetermined release date and distribute normally after that date.

ICPSR is working on a virtual data enclave to permit remote access and analysis for sensitive data, which researchers cannot download, copy, or paste. The analysis output will then be evaluated by ICPSR staff before being released. This virtual data enclave is not yet operational.

More information on confidentiality is available here.

All of the information provided comes from and   Johnson, W. G. (2008). The ICPSR and social science research. Behavioral & Social Sciences Librarian, 140-157.  doi:10.1080/01639260802385200.