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.

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.

Interested publishers should also review the following pages:

Information for Publishers | PMC FAQs for Publishers | PMC Policies

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.

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). 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.

The Evaluation and Setup Process

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

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 record for the journal in the official Register of the ISSN International Centre.
  2. 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.

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.

When reviewing an application, 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; (

Step 1: Publisher 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

On receipt of a new journal application to PMC, NLM screens the application for completeness and to ensure that the application meets the minimum requirements noted above. NLM will communicate any inconsistencies about the application back to the applicant. Please note an incomplete application may delay the processing of an application.

During this initial application review, NLM also considers the following factors in determining if a journal is in scope for PMC:

  • The journal must be peer reviewed and have a clearly stated peer review policy
  • The journal must publish generally within the biomedical and life sciences.
  • The primary content of the journal should consist of one or more of the following article types:
    • Original research and review articles
    • Clinical case reports
    • Data descriptor articles (Note: Articles must point to dataset that is publicly accessible.)
    • Descriptions of clinical or surgical procedures
  • The affiliations of the editors and authors should reflect the journal’s scope and demonstrate editorial independence and diversity.
  • The journal must be responsible for the peer review process and editorial processes underlying the published articles.

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

Journals that do not pass the initial application screening for any of the above reasons are eligible to reapply in 24 months.

Step 3: Scientific Quality Review

After a review of the journal information, policies, and content, 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 4.

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

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 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 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.


Any reapplication to PMC will be processed as a new application and will be subject to initial quality screening, scientific quality review, and technical evaluation (when applicable).

If a journal reapplies after previously being rejected for scientific and editorial quality, a minimum of 20 peer-reviewed articles (e.g., original research or review articles, clinical case reports) must have been published between the initial notification from PMC and the date the journal is eligible to submit a new application. If a journal has not published a minimum of 20 peer-reviewed articles by the date it is eligible to reapply, the journal should wait until the minimum has been met before submitting the new application. Please note that any content published prior to the date of the previous rejection will not be archived and is, therefore, out of scope for a PMC journal review.

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Last updated: Thurs, 7 Dec 2017