Putting Content into Context: Clarifying PubMed Central’s Role as an Archive

Putting Content into Context: Clarifying PubMed Central’s Role as an Archive

The role of a library in a digital world continues to evolve and expand. NLM’s PubMed Central (PMC) has a large and diverse user base that includes students and the public, as well as researchers, clinicians, and librarians. We recognize that these different audiences have varying levels of familiarity with PMC as an archive of literature published by other organizations, as well as with NLM, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the scholarly publishing process. That’s why we recently updated how we describe, display, and share articles in PMC to provide our users with more context and help them more accurately cite the correct source of an article made available in PMC.  

Here are the updates made to PMC:

  1. A prominent note has been added to all PMC article pages to clarify the relationship of NLM to the articles it collects and archives in PMC (Figure 1). This update to the article display, as well as other contextual information, is also now more visible to all users by defaulting mobile users to the same article view (“Classic view”) as desktop users. The previous default view on mobile devices, PubReader, is still available as an option on article pages under “Other Formats”. 

Figure 1. New contextual note appears above PMC articles on the desktop and mobile sites. 

In line with this article display update, NLM is also updating the default social media display when articles from PMC are shared to include additional context (Figure 2). This change will be reflected on social media platforms in the coming weeks. 

Figure 2: New contextual note that will display when PMC articles are shared on social media.

2. A new infographic has been added to several PMC documentation pages showing the different types of content that are in PMC and how each fit into the scholarly publishing process (Figure 3). The nearly 9 million articles in PMC span the scholarly publishing cycle, including those that have been formally published in a scholarly journal, author manuscripts that have been peer-reviewed and accepted for publication in a journal, and preprint versions of articles that have been made public prior to peer review. This content is deposited in the PMC archive through collaborations with publishers, societies, research funders, and international organizations. (See our Collections page for an overview of the results of these content collaborations.)

Figure 3: Updated infographic that clarifies how PMC content fits within the scholarly publishing process.


As always, if you have any questions or comments about PMC, you can email us at pubmedcentral@ncbi.nlm.nih.gov  or leave feedback on the yellow feedback button on the site.


PubMed Central® (PMC) is a free full-text archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature at the National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine (NIH/NLM). In keeping with NLM’s legislative mandate to collect and preserve the biomedical literature, PMC is part of the NLM collection, which also includes NLM’s extensive print and licensed electronic journal holdings and supports contemporary biomedical and health care research and practice as well as future scholarship. Learn more here.


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