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COVID-19 Initiative FAQ

What is the Public Health Emergency COVID-19 Initiative in PMC?

Following the call from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and science policy leaders of other nations, the National Library of Medicine (NLM) is collaborating with publishers and scholarly societies to expand access via PubMed Central (PMC) to coronavirus-related publications and associated data. Under this initiative, publishers can voluntarily deposit articles identified as relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic or prior coronavirus research. Submitted publications are made available as quickly as possible after publication for discovery in PMC and through the PMC Open Access Subset for text mining, secondary analysis, and other types of reuse.

What publishers are participating in the COVID-19 Initiative?

A complete list and links to available publisher resources are available on the main COVID-19 Initiative page.

What is the scope of content accepted under the COVID-19 Initiative?

It is left to the discretion of the publishers and scholarly societies participating in the initiative to determine which articles to deposit in PMC. A publisher may select articles related to coronaviruses broadly (e.g., including Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)) or to the COVID-19 pandemic and SARS-Cov-2 virus, specifically. NLM anticipates most of the articles deposited will be biomedical but can accept articles from related disciplines as well. A few publishers have also volunteered to deposit previously-published book chapters in addition to journal articles.

Preprints are not accepted under the COVID-19 Initiative. Additionally, PMC has not adjusted its language guidelines.

Is the COVID-19 Initiative different from standard PMC operations?

This initiative makes use of general PMC infrastructure, policies, and procedures as possible. Working within the established PMC infrastructure, NLM has adapted its standard requirements for the deposit of individual articles and online-first articles to provide greater flexibility and ensure coronavirus research is available as quickly as possible. Further, PDF-only deposits are accepted under this initiative, not only in cases where the article publication pre-dates availability of other full-text formats but also in cases where the PDF is published online prior to other formats being available.

NLM has also engaged with publishers and journals that do not currently participate in PMC but are in scope for the NLM Collection and wish to use PMC to make coronavirus-related research results available to the public. Please note that any journal currently indexed for MEDLINE is in scope for the NLM Collection. Publishers that do not currently have any titles in the NLM Collection may be asked to submit a PMC journal application to allow NLM to make a formal determination of their eligibility.

How are articles being deposited to PMC?

As this initiative is a collaboration between NLM and publishers (rather than funders and authors), PMC is working directly with publishers on direct deposit of content to the database in machine-readable formats.

Authors can check the COVID-19 Initiative publisher list to see which publishers are depositing directly to PMC. Authors should confirm with the publisher whether a specific article will be deposited under this initiative.

Consistent with current practice, NLM will accept author manuscripts only for research funded by NIH and other partner funders. NIH-funded researchers should continue to report the NIH research support of any articles or manuscripts via My Bibliography.

What type of licenses are being applied to articles deposited under the COVID-19 Initiative?

The license for each article deposited in PMC is at the discretion of individual publishers and scholarly societies. In some cases, articles are being made available for reuse under a Creative Commons license (generally, CC BY). Articles that do not have a Creative Commons license will include a custom license that allows for the article to be made available via the PMC Open Access Subset for re-use and secondary analysis with acknowledgement of the original source. In such cases, NLM proposed applying a license with these general terms for content deposited under the COVID-19 Initiative:

This article is made available via the PMC Open Access Subset for unrestricted re-use and analyses in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source. These permissions are granted for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic or until permissions are revoked in writing. Upon expiration of these permissions, PMC is granted a perpetual license to make this article available via PMC and Europe PMC, consistent with existing copyright protections.

As with all PMC Open Access Subset content, the license terms on articles, including those with custom licenses, are not all identical. Please refer to the license statement in each article for specific terms of use.

After the public health emergency, will PMC continue to provide perpetual access to the deposited articles?

As an archive, PMC will continue to provide perpetual access to all articles deposited under the COVID-19 Initiative for which the copyright holder provides such permission.

Some publishers have made explicit in the article-level license statements that deposited papers will remain accessible to the public and free to read in PMC and Europe PMC after the public health emergency ends even if articles are not traditionally open access.

Should a copyright holder request content be removed from the archive at the end of the initiative, PMC will post an announcement noting the removal of content.

How can I find COVID-19 or coronavirus-related articles in PMC?

For the most complete results on COVID-19, specifically, and coronaviruses, more broadly, we encourage you to use the search query links provided on the main COVID-19 Initiative page in the boxed text on “Discovery”.

You can find the subset of content deposited under the COVID-19 Initiative by searching on pmc phe collection[filter].

What is the difference between the COVID-19 Initiative and CORD-19?

The COVID-19 Initiative is a collaboration between publishers and NLM to expand access and enable reuse and machine learning through the deposit of COVID-19 and coronavirus-related articles to PMC.

One effort leveraging the content that publishers deposit in PMC under this initiative is the COVID-19 Open Research Dataset (CORD-19). Hosted by the Allen Institute for AI, CORD-19 is a free and growing resource that was launched on March 16, 2020, with more than 29,000 scholarly articles about COVID-19 and the coronavirus family of viruses. This dataset enables researchers to apply novel artificial intelligence and machine learning strategies to identify new knowledge to help end the pandemic.

Inclusion of a PMC article in CORD-19 is dependent on the presence of an article-level license that allows for reuse and secondary analysis. Articles under traditional copyright restrictions are ineligible for this type of redistribution and use.

What is the difference between the COVID-19 Initiative and LitCovid?

The COVID-19 Initiative is a collaboration between publishers and NLM to expand access and enable reuse and machine learning through the deposit of COVID-19 and coronavirus-related articles to PMC. Content deposited in PMC under this initiative may pre-date the current outbreak with the intent of providing broad and immediate access to the relevant literature.

LitCovid is a resource developed by intramural researchers at NLM that tracks COVID-19 specific literature published since the outbreak. This resource builds on NLM research to develop new approaches to locating and indexing the literature related to COVID-19 including a text classification algorithm for screening and ranking relevant documents, topic modeling for suggesting relevant research categories, and information extraction for obtaining geographic location(s) found in the abstract. LitCovid uses PubMed data; an article does not need to be in PMC to be included.

Please contact pmc-phe@ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. PMC staff can connect you with the provider of the work.

I am a publisher of journals that are in-scope and eligible for inclusion in the NLM Collection (e.g., MEDLINE journals). Who should I contact to participate in the COVID-19 Initiative?

Please contact pmc-phe@ncbi.nlm.nih.gov regarding your willingness to make publications in scope for this initiative immediately available in PMC under a license that allows reuse, text mining, and secondary analysis (see above for more information on licenses).

Publishers that do not have any titles currently in the NLM Collection may be asked to submit a PMC journal application to allow NLM to make a formal determination of their eligibility.

Last modified: Wed Sept. 16 2020
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