How to Participate in PMC

This page describes the process for adding a journal to PubMed Central (PMC) and explains what is required of participating journals. A journal must qualify on two levels, both the Scientific quality of the publication, and the Technical quality of its content.

Scientific Quality Standard

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) considers the suitability of a journal for the NLM Collection and its scientific and editorial quality in determining if it merits inclusion in PMC. See Journal Selection for PMC for details on how journals that apply to PMC are assessed.

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

Technical Requirements

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) and meets the PMC Minimum Data Criteria. 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 required for each deposited 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.

Before You Apply

Pre-Application Requirements

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 confirmed record for the journal in the official Register of the ISSN International Centre.
  2. The journal must be in scope for PMC, as described in the PMC Scope section of the PMC Policies page.
  3. The journal must be able to provide NLM with immediate access to the content at a publisher or third-party site, as required by NLM's Electronic Resources policy.
  4. For publishers with at least a two-year history of quality scholarly publishing in the life sciences, a minimum of 25 peer reviewed articles (e.g., original research or review articles, clinical case reports) must be published in final form before you apply.

Publisher Information

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.

NLM looks for conformance with guidelines and best practices published by professional organizations, including Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals ( from ICMJE and Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing (joint statement by COPE, DOAJ, WAME, and OASPA;, and the NISO Recommended Practices for the Presentation and Identification of E-Journals (PIE-J;

The Evaluation and Setup Process

Submit Application | Initial Application Screening | Scientific Quality Review | Technical Evaluation | Pre-Production | Release to Live

Step 1: Submit Application

If you meet the Pre-Application Requirements above, you may apply via the PMC Publisher Portal.

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: Initial Application Screening

NLM screens the application for completeness and to ensure that the journal meets the Pre-Application Requirements noted above. NLM also determines if the journal is in scope for PMC during this initial application screening. NLM will communicate any inconsistencies or missing information back to the applicant.

For journals that pass the initial application screening, the process continues to step 3 (Scientific Quality Review).

Step 3: Scientific Quality Review

After a thorough review of the journal information, policies, and content, PMC will inform the publisher whether or not the journal meets NLM's scientific and editorial quality standards for inclusion in PMC (see Journal Selection for PMC).

For journals that meet these standards, the process continues to step 4.

Step 4: 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 should be representative of the various article types and styles, and include the file formats found in the journal’s archive. The set should include approximately 50 articles, although 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 satisfy ALL the requirements in the PMC Minimum Data Criteria.
  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 the Minimum Requirements for PMC Data Evaluation Submissions.

If a submission fails to meet PMC's minimum data criteria at any stage of the application process, the journal's application may 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 5: Pre-Production

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 banners and links. See the Banner Specifications 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 6: Release to Live

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

Ongoing participation in PMC requires a journal and the journal publisher to continue to meet NLM’s quality standards for PMC and the NLM collection over time. The process for reevaluating accepted journals is described in the scientific, editorial, and technical standards section of the PMC Policies page.


If a journal’s application to PMC is rejected, the journal is eligible to reapply following our Reapplications policy.

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Last updated: Tues, 12 June 2018