Navigating the NIH Public Access Policy: My NCBI

by carson.harrod@bswhealth.org on Monday, December 19, 2016

The National Library of Medicine’s National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) web site is host to My NCBI, a personal page for investigators that has a variety of tools and functionalities, including some that are important for compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy. The My NCBI site can be linked to an investigator’s personal account on the NIH grants site, eRA Commons, which allows for two-way communication between the sites. Other third-party sites can be linked to the personal My NCBI account as well.

Investigators can access My NCBI by clicking on the ‘Sign in to NCBI’ link in the top blue bar of PubMed and other NCBI pages. On the login page, there are choices of signing directly into My NCBI or using one of the links to sign in via a third-party site such as eRA Commons. However an investigator chooses to create a My NCBI account and log in initially, that same login method should be used every time by that investigator.

My Bibliography Module
The My Bibliography module allows an investigator to build and maintain an up-to-date bibliography, ensure that all peer-reviewed publications comply with the NIH Public Access Policy, link NIH funding to peer-reviewed publications and use the bibliography in grant reporting. When an investigator is logged into the My NCBI account, creating a bibliography and populating it with publications can be as easy as performing a PubMed search. On the PubMed Search Results page, the investigator will select one or more publications to move to My Bibliography. At the top of the Search Results page is a pull-down menu called ‘Send to’ that has a list of destinations, including My Bibliography. Publications that are not listed in PubMed can be hand entered. These steps are repeated as needed for multiple pages or searches until the investigator’s bibliography is complete. Future publications are added in the same way as they become available.

Once a publication has been added to My Bibliography, the investigator can check whether it is compliant with the NIH Public Access Policy. In the ‘Display Settings’ pull-down menu at the top of the My Bibliography page, there are three categories. Under the ‘View’ category, select ‘Award’; under the ‘Sort by’ category, select ‘Public Access Compliance’; and under ‘Grouping’, select ‘By citation type’. This will give a status code beside each article citation.

The five possible status codes that a publication can have are a red circle (indicating that the publication is over three months old and a PMCID number has not been assigned, publication is not compliant), a yellow circle (publication is less than three months old and compliance is in process with a PMC Journal), a green circle (publication is compliant), a box with N/A (publication does not fall under the NIH Public Access Policy) and a circle with a question mark (unknown, status needs to be edited by investigator). The status of publications will change as funding is linked to them, PMCID numbers are assigned/linked to the publications, the three-month deadline passes without having PMCID numbers assigned, or the investigator changes the funding status of publications. The initial work of building a bibliography can take some time but maintaining it only requires that new citations be added as needed and that the status of each with regard to the NIH policy be managed.

A complete and compliant bibliography can be used to cite publications for NIH grant reporting using the Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) on the eRA Commons web site. A bibliography can also be used in building biographical sketches for grant applications and reporting.

SciENcv Module for Biographical Sketches
The other module on My NCBI that is related to the NIH Public Access Policy is called SciENcv. This module is used to build biographical sketches (biosketches), and multiple versions can be stored and edited. Currently, SciENcv supports biosketches in NIH, National Science Foundation (NSF) or Institution of Education Sciences (IES) formats. Biosketches have a number of places where the investigator’s publications can be cited. These citations can be pulled directly from the My Bibliography page. For the NIH (and other organizations that have public access policies), publications that are cited in biosketches must be compliant with the policy.

The SciENcv page shows the investigator’s name, title and institution, along with a list of the biosketches that have been created. Clicking on ‘Create New Biosketch’ will open a page to name the biosketch and select the institution (NIH, NSF or IES) format. There is also a choice to start with a blank biosketch template, copy information from an existing SciENcv biosketch, or pull information from an external source such as eRA Commons. When the selections on this page are completed, select ‘Create’.

The biosketch page will then have all of the sections of the biosketch. The sections will either be blank or be pre-populated with information, depending on whether a blank template was selected or information was copied from another biosketch or source. Section A of the biosketch is the Personal Statement, which can cite up to four publications. Section C is called Contribution to Science. Up to five contributions can be listed, each with up to citations. To add citations to these sections, click on ‘Select citations’ in the section. A list of the publications from My Bibliography will open, allowing the investigator to choose which ones to include in that section. The biosketch can also be linked to eRA Commons, which will allow the investigator to easily list NIH grants in section D.

A biosketch can be downloaded from SciENcv as a Word, pdf or xml file and used for grant applications and reporting.

Putting It All Together
The NIH Public Access Policy requires that peer-reviewed publications that result from NIH funding be made publicly available. This series has described the policy and how to comply with it. Publications can be submitted to PubMed Central, the NIH-approved public repository for publications, either by the journal or the author. When a publication is posted to PubMed Central, it will be assigned a PMCID number to demonstrate compliance. This number is used whenever the publication is cited for NIH grant applications and reporting. The My NCBI site provides tools to manage bibliographies and biosketches, and it can be linked to eRA Commons and other external sites to facilitate information transfer for grant applications and reporting.

Maintaining compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy is an ongoing process for investigators and administrators who support them. The value of the policy is that new scientific information is made publicly available quickly, thereby expediting future research and scientific breakthroughs.


Related Articles:
Part 3: Navigating the NIH Public Access Policy: Properly Citing Manuscripts
Part 2: Navigating the NIH Public Access Policy: The Submission Process
Part 1: Navigating the NIH Public Access Policy


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