Add a Journal to PMC

This page describes the process for adding a journal to PubMed Central (PMC) and explains what is required of participating journals. Interested publishers should also review the PMC FAQs and PMC Policies.

Participation in PMC is open to any English-language life sciences journal that meets NLM's standards for the archive. A journal must qualify on two levels, both the Scientific quality of the publication, and the Technical quality of its digital files.

1. The PMC Application Process

Step 1

Publisher applies to PMC

The following requirements must be met before making any kind of application to PMC:

  1. The journal must have a properly registered ISSN. This means that there must be a record for the journal in the official Register of the ISSN International Centre.
  2. For established publishers who already have a substantial record of journals in PMC or MEDLINE, a minimum of 15 original research or review articles must be published in final form before you apply. For other publishers with at least a two-year history of quality scholarly publishing in the life sciences, the minimum is 30 published articles.

NLM may consider an application from a publishing organization that has been publishing scholarly content for less than two years if there is evidence that the management and individuals responsible for editorial quality and operations have adequate experience in comparable positions at other organizations.

If you meet these requirements, you may apply via the PMC Publisher Portal, where you will need to provide PMC with the following information about the journal and the publishing organization:

  • The full title of the journal and the ISSN
  • When the journal started publishing and how frequently it is published
  • A URL for the journal website
  • Direct links to the editorial board, editorial policies, peer review process, and policies on Conflict of Interest, Human and Animal Rights, and Informed Consent
  • Publisher name and information about its management, qualifications, and publishing policies

Please send questions about the PMC application process to

Step 2

PMC Scientific Quality Review

After a review of the journal information, PMC will inform the publisher whether or not the journal meets PMC's scientific quality standard. For journals that meet this standard, the process continues to step 3.

Journals that do not meet this standard are eligible to reapply in 24 months.

Step 3

PMC Technical Evaluation

The publisher submits a representative set of sample files, which are evaluated to ensure that the journal's data meets PMC's technical quality standards. Keep in mind that:

  1. The sample set must comprise approximately 50 articles and be representative of the variety of article types, styles and file formats found in the journal. Smaller samples may be evaluated at PMC's discretion.
  2. The sample set must include all of the files listed under “Files to be deposited for each article” in the PMC Technical Requirements section.
  3. The sample files must, at a minimum, satisfy ALL the requirements in the PMC Minimum Data Criteria document.
  4. Each sample package must be named, organized and packaged according to the PMC conventions described in the File Organization, Packaging, and Delivery section of the PMC File Submission Specifications.

Upon receipt of a journal's sample files, PMC first verifies that the submission satisfies all the requirements in the PMC Minimum Data Criteria document.


If a submission fails to meet PMC's minimum data criteria at any stage of the application process, the journal's application will be rejected.

If a submission satisfies the minimum data criteria, PMC does a more extensive review of the files, specifically checking that:

  • The XML tagging conforms to its DTD.
  • The online presentation of an article, as generated from the XML and associated image files, is an accurate, error-free, and complete display of the article. This check is made against the published article of record, typically the PDF or full text article at the journal's own site.

Once the data evaluation is complete, PMC sends the publisher a report specifying what needs to be corrected. The publisher corrects the problems and resubmits the sample for evaluation. If, on the third submission, there are still problems, the journal's application will be rejected.

Step 4

Preproduction Phase

After the data evaluation phase is complete:

  • PMC will ask the publisher to complete a formal PMC Participation Agreement with NLM.
  • After the agreement details have been confirmed, PMC will ask the publisher to deposit a complete set of files for all issues up to the present that are to be included in the archive. Prior to sending these files to PMC, the publisher must correct all data problems similar to those that were found in the sample set.
  • PMC processes the complete set of files supplied by the publisher, and performs quality assurance checks on the content. If any data corrections are required, PMC sends a report to the publisher requesting corrections.
  • The publisher provides journal presentation information. See the PMC Journal Setup Requirements for details.
  • Once the files provided by the publisher are problem-free, PMC sets up the journal based on the presentation information provided by the publisher, and posts the content on a preview site for the publisher to review. PMC corrects any problems on its end that may be found in this review.


If PMC finds significant data problems in the publisher's full set of files, the journal's application may be rejected.

Step 5

Live in PMC

NLM countersigns the publisher's PMC Participation Agreement and releases the journal to the PMC public site with the publisher's approval.

2. PMC's Scientific Quality Standard

NLM’s Library Operations Division will decide whether the scientific and editorial character and quality of a journal merit its inclusion in PMC. In making this decision NLM will consider the suitability of the journal for the NLM collection (based on the criteria in the Collection Development Manual of the National Library of Medicine), as well as the opinions of expert consultants.

Journals that already are fully indexed for MEDLINE generally will not require further scientific review for PMC.

3. PMC's Technical Requirements

Required Files

A journal must provide PMC with the full text of articles in an XML (eXtensible Markup Language) format that conforms to an acceptable journal article DTD (Document Type Definition). PMC does not accept articles in HTML format.

NLM recommends that data be submitted in XML conforming to the NISO JATS Journal Publishing Tag Set, but PMC will also accept data in other full-text article DTDs that are widely used in life sciences journal publishing.

Files to be deposited for each article:

  1. A separate XML data file for the full text of each article.
  2. The original high-resolution digital image files for all figures in each article.
  3. A PDF, if one exists, in addition to the XML version (but not as the only form.)
  4. Supplementary data files (e.g., spreadsheets or video files) available with the article.

4. Minimum Criteria for PMC Data Evaluation Submissions


If a sample file submission fails to meet these minimum requirements, a journal’s application to PMC will be rejected.

  1. Each sample package must be complete: all required data files (XML, PDF if available, image files, supplementary data files) for every article in the package must be present and named correctly.
    • XML and PDF base file names must match exactly.
    • Data file names must exactly match the names that are called out in the XML in name and case.
  2. All XML files must conform to an acceptable journal article DTD. If you plan on submitting articles in a format other than the JATS or NLM Journal Publishing DTD, please contact PMC at prior to submitting any files.
  3. All XML files must parse according to their DTD. PMC validates data using the PUBLIC ID in the DOCTYPE declaration in each source file.


    If you are using the NISO JATS Journal Publishing Tag Set, PMC strongly suggests that you tag your articles so that they conform to PMC Style. You can use the Online PMC Style Checker or download a version of the Style Checker that can be run locally to confirm that any JATS XML file conforms to PMC Style.

  4. Regardless of the XML DTD used, the following metadata information must be present and tagged with correct values in every sample file:
    • Journal ISSN or other unique Journal ID
    • Journal Publisher
    • Copyright statement (if applicable)
    • License statement (if applicable)
    • Volume
    • Issue number (if applicable)
    • Pagination/article sequence number.
    • Issue-based or Article-based publication dates.


    Articles submitted to PMC must contain publication dates that accurately reflect the journal’s publication model, following these general guidelines for publication date tagging

  5. All image files for figures must be legible, and submitted in high-resolution TIFF or EPS format, according to the Figure Graphic Formatting Guidelines

5. PMC Participation Agreements

Before a journal is released publicly in PMC, the publisher must complete a formal PMC Participation Agreement with NLM. There are three types of agreements, which correspond to how much content a journal plans to deposit. Click on the links below to get a copy of the respective agreement in Microsoft Word format.

  • Full Participation: the journal commits to depositing the complete contents of each issue or volume, starting with a particular volume/issue or publication date.
  • NIH Portfolio: the journal commits to depositing all NIH-funded articles (as defined by the NIH Public Access Policy), starting with a particular volume/issue or publication date. The journal may choose to also deposit other, non-NIH-funded articles under this agreement.
  • Selective Deposit: generally used by publishers who offer a hybrid publishing model, i.e., a traditional subscription-based journal in which selected articles are published as "open access." Some of these journals deposit only the open access articles in PMC. This agreement also may be used for other sets of articles that are more limited than those covered by a full participation or NIH portfolio agreement.

A publisher should use an Additional Journals amendment, instead of completing a new agreement, if it already has a PMC Full Participation or NIH Portfolio agreement with NLM and wishes to include additional journals in PMC under similar terms.

Write to the Help Desk

Last updated: Thu, 26 Mar 2015