NCBI Bookshelf. A service of the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.

About Bookshelf [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Center for Biotechnology Information (US); 2010-.

Cover of About Bookshelf

About Bookshelf [Internet].

Show details

How to Include Content in Bookshelf

Last Update: October 7, 2019.

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

This page describes the process for including content in Bookshelf as well as the pre-application requirements. Any content provider that submits an application that meets all the pre-application requirements undergoes an evaluation process. As part of the evaluation process, the National Library of Medicine (NLM) considers the scope of the content as well as its scientific and editorial quality. Content selected for inclusion in Bookshelf is also evaluated on technical quality. Content providers are encouraged to read through all steps and review Bookshelf’s information for authors and publishers.

Pre-Application Requirements

For Content

Image addbook-Image001.jpg The content must be peer reviewed
Image addbook-Image001.jpg The content provider must be able to provide NLM with a PDF or Word document of the content or immediate access to it at a publisher or third-part site
Image addbook-Image001.jpg The full text of the content must be available in English

For Content Providers

NLM looks for ongoing content provider conformance with published guidelines and best practices, including OAPEN Guides for OA monographs, IOM Committee on Standards for Developing Trustworthy Clinical Practice Guidelines, OER Authoring Resources, PRISMA guidelines, CARE case report guidelines, CONSORT, and ARRIVE.

Evaluation and Setup Process

Submit Application → Screening → Scientific Quality Review → Technical Evaluation → Preview → Live Release

Submit Application

Information you’ll need to submit when applying

Image addbook-Image001.jpg Title of proposed content
Image addbook-Image001.jpg URL, PDF, or Word document of full text of proposed content
Image addbook-Image001.jpg Publisher name and information about its management, qualifications, and publishing policies
Image addbook-Image001.jpg Abstract or description of content
Image addbook-Image001.jpg Copyright holder
Image addbook-Image001.jpg Information about the authors and editors, including links to bios or CVs
Image addbook-Image002.jpg For more information and a link to the Bookshelf application, see our information for authors and publishers or contact vog.hin.mln.ibcn@flehskoob

Initial Application Screening

Once received, NLM will check that the application is complete and meets the pre-application requirements. NLM will communicate any inconsistencies about the application back to the applicant. If the application is complete, NLM will determine if the content is appropriate for Bookshelf. Content providers who do not pass the initial application screening are eligible to reapply in 24 months.

Factors that determine if content is in scope for Bookshelf

Image addbook-Image001.jpg Peer-reviewed with a clearly stated peer-review policy
Image addbook-Image001.jpg Generally, falls within the biomedical and life sciences
Image addbook-Image001.jpg Web content and clinical resources are regularly reviewed and updated
Image addbook-Image001.jpg The affiliations of the editors and authors should reflect the scope of the content and demonstrate editorial independence and diversity

The following content types are in scope:

In very exceptional cases, Bookshelf will consider self-published or independently sponsored works.

Image addbook-Image003.jpg For more information,
see our Scope Details

Scientific Quality Review

After a thorough review of the content provider and its content, Bookshelf will inform the content provider whether the content meets Bookshelf’s scientific quality standard.

Content that does not meet this standard is eligible for reapplication in 24 months.

Technical Evaluation

First, Bookshelf asks the content provider to fill out a Technical Evaluation Checklist, which must be returned to Bookshelf before starting any work on the evaluation.

For Collections and Updated Web Content

Next, if the content is a collection of documents or regularly updated content, the content provider submits a set of at least 3-5 sample documents that is representative of the collection’s content types and styles. The set of samples must meet Bookshelf’s File Submission Specifications. In addition, Bookshelf will request a cover image for the collection or website, as well as a brief description of the collection to appear on its landing page in Bookshelf.

For Books

If the content is a single book or other type of document, the content provider submits it to Bookshelf according to Bookshelf’s File Submission Specifications.

What does Bookshelf evaluate?

Bookshelf evaluates the content to ensure that:

Image addbook-Image001.jpg The XML Coding meets Bookshelf’s specifications, including explicit markup of all structural and textual elements of a source and enough metadata to build an accurate citation
Image addbook-Image001.jpg The deposit adheres to Bookshelf’s File Submission Specifications
Image addbook-Image001.jpg The presentation of the content, as generated from the XML and associated files, is an accurate, error-free representation of the version of record

If necessary, the content provider must correct reported errors and submit a revised package for a subsequent round of evaluation.

If a deposit fails to meet Bookshelf’s file submission specifications at any stage of the application process, the application may be rejected.


Once the content passes Bookshelf’s technical evaluation phase and is set up in Bookshelf’s systems, Bookshelf will request the following from the content provider:

Image addbook-Image001.jpg Approval of a preview of the content as generated from the XML and associated files
Image addbook-Image001.jpg A formal NLM LitArch Participant Agreement
Image addbook-Image001.jpg A complete set of document files belonging to an accepted collection or website according to the terms of the participant agreement

Live Release

NLM countersigns the content provider’s LitArch Participation Agreement and releases the content to the Bookshelf public site with the content provider’s approval.

Ongoing participation in Bookshelf requires a content provider to continue to meet NLM's quality standards for Bookshelf and the NLM collection. The process for reevaluating accepted content is described in Bookshelf’s Reevaluation section.