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NIH Public Access Policy Compliance: Citing

Learn how to comply with the NIH Public Access Policy

Citing for Compliance

Anyone submitting an application, proposal or report to the NIH must include the PMC reference number (PMCID) when citing applicable papers that they author or that arise from their NIH-funded research.
See Include PMCID in Citations for more information.

Difference Between a PMCID and a PMID

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.

Locating PMCID Numbers

Add the paper to My NCBI. (See My NCBI and My Bibliography training materials for instructions).  My NCBI will automatically add the PMCID to a citation as soon as it is available.

PMCIDs are listed in the lower right corner of the Abstract Plus view of PubMed.  If the paper is successfully processed but not yet publicly available on PMC, PubMed will also list the date the paper will become available. 

How to Cite

1. Include the PubMed Central number (PMCID) at the end of citations when submitting an NIH application, proposal or report. 

For papers published more than 3 months before an application, proposal and report is submitted:

  • List the PubMed Central reference number (PMCID) at the end of the full journal citation for the paper in NIH applications, proposals and reports.  A PMCID is the only way to demonstrate compliance for these papers. 

For papers in press (often listed as "[epub ahead of print]"), or published within 3 months of when an application, proposal or report is submitted:

  • When using Submission Method A or B, indicate "PMC Journal - In Process" or the PMCID at the end of the full citation.
  • When using Submission Method C or D, provide a valid NIH Manuscript Submission System reference number (NIHMSID) or PMCID at the end of the full citation. Note, NIH awardees are responsible for ensuring that all steps of the NIHMS submission process are complete within three months of publication.

Note: no special notation is required when manually citing publications that do not fall under the public access policy.

2. Place the literature citations in the appropriate location.

The appropriate locations for literature citations vary depending on the application type.  See Guide notice NOT-OD-08-119

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