Open Access (OA) and NIH Policies

Open Access promotes both open access publishing and self-archiving.  The publishing part emphasizes the publication of material without financial or other barriers.  Self-archiving, or “green OA,” encourages authors to self-archive non-open-access publications. The impetus for OA was the unsustainable economics of commercial scholarly publishing and to encourage alternatives to the established commercial marketplace.

An open access publication1 is one that meets the following two conditions:

  1. The author(s) and copyright holder(s) grant(s) to all users a free, irrevocable, worldwide, perpetual (for the lifetime of the applicable copyright) right of access to, and a license to copy, use, distribute, perform and display the work publicly and to make and distribute derivative works in any digital medium for any reasonable purpose, subject to proper attribution of authorship2 , as well as the right to make small numbers of printed copies for their personal use.
  2. A complete version of the work and all supplemental materials, including a copy of the permission as stated above, in a suitable standard electronic format is deposited immediately upon initial publication in at least one online repository that is supported by an academic institution, scholarly society, government agency, or other well-established organization that seeks to enable open access, unrestricted distribution, interoperability, and long-term archiving (for the biomedical sciences, PubMed Central is such a repository).

This definition of an open access publication has been taken from A Position statement by the Welcome Trust in support of open access publishing and was based on the definition arrived at by delegates who attended a meeting on open access publishing convened by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in July 2003.


  1. An open access publication is a property of individual works, not necessarily of journals or of publishers.
  2. Community standards, rather than copyright law, will continue to provide the mechanism for enforcement of proper attribution and responsible use of the published work, as they do now.

Related Resources

  • Scholarly Communications
  • New eScholarship Launch at the University of California effective October 19, 2009 - Previously known as UC’s eScholarship Repository, the new eScholarship offers a robust scholarly publishing platform that enables departments, research units, publishing programs, and individual scholars associated with the University of California to have direct control over the creation and dissemination of the full range of their scholarship. “Our relaunch of eScholarship reflects the enormous value we see in recasting the institutional repository as an open access publisher,” says Catherine Mitchell, Director of the Publishing Group at the California Digital Library. “There is significant need across the University of California campuses for a sustainable infrastructure to support the publication and dissemination of research. In our efforts to respond to this need, we have watched our institutional repository evolve into a dynamic platform for the original publication of scholarly work.”  A short video is available at
  • Berkeley Electronic Press (bepress) ResearchNow Portal
  • Timeline of the Open Access Movement
  • Open Access Week 2009
  • Open Access Day
  • SPARC Open Access Brochure (pdf)

Additional Resources:

Beginning April 7, 2008, all Principal Investigators funded by the NIH must submit an electronic version of their final, peer-reviewed manuscripts, upon acceptance for publication, to the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed Central. These must be made publicly available no later than 12 months after the date of publication.
Because institutions and investigators are responsible for ensuring that any publishing or copyright agreements concerning articles submitted are fully compliant with this new policy, the UCI Libraries are now providing assistance with copyright and publishing agreements that may arise as investigators submit articles to various journals. Assistance on these types of agreements can be obtained by contacting the UCI Libraries NIH Group at

The new Public Access requirement is an important opportunity to make published research funded by NIH and written by you and your colleagues accessible to all – the public, health care providers, educators and scientists, among others. This improved access will help advance science and, ultimately, improve human health. Principle investigators receiving NIH funds should note the following:

  • The NIH Public Access Policy applies to all peer-reviewed articles that arise, in whole or in part, from direct costs funded by NIH, or from NIH staff, that are accepted for publication on or after April 7, 2008. The final, peer-reviewed manuscript includes all graphics and supplemental materials that are associated with the article.
  • As of May 25, 2008, anyone submitting an NIH application, proposal or progress report must include the PMC or NIH Manuscript Submission reference number when citing applicable articles that arise from their NIH funded research. This policy includes applications submitted to the NIH for the May 25, 2008 due date and subsequent due dates.

Additional resources for understanding and following the NIH Policy

Other resources for understanding and complying with the mandate:

Documents from the NIH Public Access Policy Workshop: