NIH Preprint Pilot FAQs

The below FAQs are focused on the NIH Preprint Pilot and related NIH guidance, and are not intended to address more general questions about preprints.

General Pilot FAQs

Why is NLM piloting the inclusion of preprints in PubMed Central (PMC)?

The primary goal of the NIH Preprint Pilot is to increase the discoverability of preprints developed with National Institutes of Health (NIH) support, maximizing the impact of the research. PMC is a widely used resource that already includes more than one million peer-reviewed author manuscripts and published articles that have been collected under the NIH Public Access Policy. NLM views the NIH Preprint Pilot as complementary to (not replacing) the NIH Public Access Policy, allowing for early NIH research results to be made publicly accessible to and more findable by the wider research community and public.

Once posted to PMC, results of NIH-funded research made available as preprints become more prominent, integrated, and accessible. PMC materials are also integrated with large NIH research databases such as GenBank and PubChem, which helps accelerate scientific discovery. Because PMC stores publications in a common format and in a central repository, a user can quickly search the entire collection of full-text articles, including all accepted author manuscripts, published articles, and, now, preprints supported by NIH that have been made available in the archive.

Will preprints in PMC also be reflected in PubMed?

Yes, following standard NLM practice, a citation for each preprint record in PMC is made available in PubMed to further increase the discoverability of this content.

How can I filter a PMC or PubMed search to view only preprint records or exclude preprint records?

In PMC, you can use a search filter to find preprint records: preprint[filter]. In PubMed, you can query by publication type: preprint[pt].

To exclude preprint records from your search results, you can use the Boolean “NOT” in either database, e.g., "covid 19 NOT preprint[filter]" in PMC and "covid 19 NOT preprint[pt]" in PubMed.

How is NIH Preprint Pilot content being curated?

In the first phase of the pilot, NLM curation efforts are limited to content included in the iSearch COVID-19 Portfolio tool developed by the NIH Office of Portfolio Analysis. NLM is using this tool to identify preprints reporting on COVID-19 research.

Early workflows that NLM has employed for curating preprints with NIH support include searching available author affiliation metadata and text mining acknowledgments for NIH awards. New content will continue to be added as these workflows are refined and scaled up. Curation efforts are limited to funding status and preprint server eligibility.

What preprint servers are currently included in the NIH Preprint Pilot?

Phase 1 curation efforts are limited to preprint servers included in the NIH iSearch COVID-19 Portfolio. This includes preprints reporting on COVID-19 research from medRxiv, bioRxiv, arXiv, ChemRxiv, Research Square, and SSRN.

How will the pilot be evaluated?

NLM will monitor the impact of the pilot on the scholarly communications landscape, including how and when research results are shared, discovered, disseminated, and reported, and evidence of increased awareness and emerging best practices around preprint sharing. Regular updates on the pilot status will be posted to the NLM Technical Bulletin. NLM will also seek stakeholder feedback to inform the evaluation of the pilot.

If the pilot is discontinued, what will happen to the preprints added to PMC?

PMC will retain all preprints made available under the NIH Preprint Pilot in the archive. All public documentation will be updated to reflect that the pilot has ended.

Will preprint records be retrievable via the PMC Open Access Subset?

Preprint records with license terms that allows for more liberal redistribution and reuse will be included in the PMC Open Access Subset. These records can be identified in the in the article-meta of the XML: <article-version article-version-type=“status”>preprint</article version>.

Will preprint records in PubMed be retrievable via E-utilities?

Yes, preprint records will be retrievable via E-utilities and can be identified by the Publication Type "Preprint".

Does the NIH Preprint Pilot mean that multiple versions of an article may be available in PMC or PubMed?

Yes. There may be cases where PMC and PubMed include a preprint record and a subsequent record for the peer-reviewed, accepted author manuscript or published article. Preprint records will be clearly linked to later versions of the paper in PMC and PubMed, when available. The preprint record will not be removed from the archive when a later version is available.

Who should I contact if I find a preprint matched incorrectly to a published article?

Please contact if you notice any discrepancies or errors in these links.

NIH Investigators FAQs

What is the current guidance on preprints for NIH investigators?

In March 2017, NIH released guidance on “Reporting Preprints and Other Interim Research Products” (NOT-OD-17-050). This guidance includes the following instructions for authors:

Expectations of researchers: publicly accessible, acknowledge nih funding, state lack of peer review, declare COI

The guide notice also strongly encourages awardees to select a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license or dedicate their work to the public domain.

NIH awardees can claim preprints as products of award on their progress report publication list. They can also report them on their RPPR, and link them to their award in their My Bibliography account.

NLM encourages NIH intramural researchers who may not be able to report their preprints via My Bibliography to provide their author affiliation data at the time of submission to a preprint server.

See the full guide notice for further guidance on citation of preprints and selecting preprint repositories.

If a preprint is in PMC, do I still need to submit the peer-reviewed, accepted author manuscript to comply with the NIH Public Access Policy?

Yes. Even if a preprint has been submitted to NIH as a product of award, the peer reviewed publication must be reported with the associated PMCID as proof of compliance with NIH Public Access Policy. Specifically: The requirement for publication in PMC applies only to peer-reviewed articles resulting from research supported in whole or in part with direct costs from NIH, upon acceptance for publication (NIH Grants Policy Statement, Section 8.2.2 “NIH Public Access Policy”).

Preprints should not be deposited via the NIH Manuscript Submission (NIHMS) system. NIHMS is only for peer-reviewed author manuscripts that have been accepted for publication in a journal.

NIH awardees that would like to identify a preprint as NIH-supported for future inclusion in the pilot should use My Bibliography (see next question).

How can I add a preprint citation to My Bibliography?

NLM will simplify how to add a preprint citation to My Bibliography in Summer 2020.

In the interim, you can add a preprint and associate your NIH grant in My Bibliography as follows:

  1. Start New Citation​: Click on "+Add citations" and select "Manually."​
  2. Select Citation Type​: Choose "Interim products" from drop-down menu.​
  3. Add Basic Metadata​: Enter the manuscript title and author(s) name(s).​
  4. Indicate Product Type: ​Select "Preprint" from drop-down menu.​
  5. Complete Citation​.
  6. Associate NIH Award(s): NIH investigators have the option to select "+ Add Award" once the citation has been created to indicate NIH support.

See the Interim Research Product FAQs for guidance on citing and reporting preprints.

I added a preprint citation with an associated NIH award in My Bibliography. Will this preprint be included in the NIH Preprint Pilot?

Not automatically at this time. The COVID-19 scope of Phase 1 means only a subset of preprints with NIH support will be included in the pilot initially. NLM hopes to leverage My Bibliography as a tool for identifying preprints across the spectrum of NIH research in future phases.

How can I grant permission for the full text of my preprint to be made available in PMC?

The simplest way is to select a Creative Commons license [Note: NIH recommends a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license] or dedicate your work to the public domain when you submit the preprint.

If you did not do so at the time you posted your preprint, you can either upload a new version of the preprint with license terms that allow for PMC to archive the full text or email to grant permission for NLM to include the preprint in PMC. The preprint should clearly acknowledge any NIH support.

Preprint Server FAQs

Can our organization's preprint server be added to the NIH Preprint Pilot?

In Phase 1 of the pilot, NLM will be identifying preprints with NIH support exclusively from data made available in the iSearch COVID-19 Portfolio tool.

During this time, we encourage you to review the Preprint Server Eligibility considerations outlined in the pilot overview for future consideration.

What metadata need to be openly accessible in machine-readable format?

To support workflows, NLM expects preprint servers to make the following metadata openly accessible:

  • Preprint indicator
  • Preprint server name
  • Preprint server owner
  • Preprint posting date
  • Article title
  • Article type (This identifies the type of article, e.g., research article. It is not to be confused with the preprint indicator above.)
  • Authors
  • Persistent identifier (preferably, DOI)
  • e-Location ID (This is a preprint-server-unique string that can stand in for a first page number in an article citation. Many times it is the DOI suffix.)
  • Abstract

PMC also encourages preprint servers to collect and make available author affiliation, version, and funding metadata.

A DOI in PMC or PubMed will always link directly to the record on the preprint server site. PMC will also highlight the availability of the preprint on the server in the yellow related content box above the abstract.

PubMed supports the LinkOut service. Full-text providers can participate in LinkOut for additional prominent linking. See the LinkOut website for details.

Preprints from our preprint server are included in the pilot. How can we access usage statistics for these records in PMC?

Each preprint server with content included in the pilot will be given password-controlled access to a web site that has usage reports for preprints from their repository. The usage reports will contain the same data that PMC makes available to participating journal, as described in the PMC FAQ.

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Last updated: Tues., 28 Jul 2020