The purpose of the NIH Public Access Policy is to "help advance science and improve human health." According to this policy, all final, peer-reviewed manuscripts arising from NIH funding must be made accessible to the public "no later than 12 months after the official date of publication."
When a researcher authors a paper describing the results of research supported fully or partially by an NIH grant, there are steps that need to be taken to:
1. Ensure that the paper is openly accessible to anyone who would like to read it or download it.
2. Add the paper to the researcher's master list of publications (bibliography).
3. "Associate" the paper with the NIH grant(s) that funded the research from which the paper arose.
The NIH Public Access Policy specifies that all papers arising from research supported fully or partially by an NIH grant must be submitted to PubMed Central (PMC), an open-access repository administered by the NIH/NLM. Papers may be submitted to PMC by the publisher of the journal in which the paper appeared, by the author of the paper, or through a process that the publisher initiates and the author completes. Which of these methods is used will depend on the publisher, the journal, and the type of paper. See this page from the NIH Public Access Policy for more information about the different methods of submitting papers to PMC. To submit a paper to PMC, an author (or person designated by the author) will use the NIH Manuscript Submission System (NIHMS System).
Since scholarly papers are one of the main ways that researchers communicate the results of their research, it is important for each researcher to keep a running list of all his/her publications. Researchers also must cite their publications in grant proposals and progress reports, and are often asked to provide a list of publications when applying for a new position or for tenure review/promotion. The My NCBI My Bibliography system is a convenient way to maintain a list of publications. Moreover, researchers funded by NIH grants must use the My NCBI My Bibliography system, because it interfaces with eRA Commons, the NIH's grant administration system.
As the systems are currently set up, an author's list of publications is maintained in My NCBI My Bibliography. Thus new papers are added to the author's list of publications through My NCBI My Bibliography and are associated with the appropriate NIH grants. It is important to maintain an up to date My NCBI Bibliography.
In the past, the list of publications could also be maintained through eRA Commons, but that functionality was removed as of July 23, 2010. See this notice issued by the NIH for more information about the switch from the eRA bibliography function to My NCBI My Bibliography.)