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'''PubMed Central''' ('''PMC''') is a free [[digital repository]] that archives [[open access|publicly accessible]] full-text scholarly articles that have been published within the [[biomedical]] and [[life sciences]] journal literature. As one of the major research databases within the suite of resources that have been developed by the [[National Center for Biotechnology Information]] (NCBI), PubMed Central is much more than just a document repository. Submissions into PMC undergo an indexing and formatting procedure which results in enhanced metadata, [[medical ontologies|medical ontology]], and unique identifiers which all enrich the XML structured data for each article on deposit.<ref>[https://dx.{{cite journal | = 10.4242/BalisageVol6.Beck01 Beck, Jeff.| title=Report from the Field: PubMed Central, an XML-based Archive of Life Sciences Journal Articles.] | journal=Proceedings of the International Symposium on XML for the Long Haul: Issues in the Long-term Preservation of XML | last1 = Beck | first1 = Jeff}}</ref> Content within PMC can easily be interlinked to many other NCBI databases and accessed via [[Entrez]] search and retrieval systems, further enhancing the public's ability to freely discover, read and build upon this portfolio of biomedical knowledge.<ref>[ NCBI Handbook: PubMed Central. Chris Maloney, Ed Sequeira, Christopher Kelly, Rebecca Orris, and Jeffrey Beck Dec 2013]</ref>
PubMed Central should not be confused with [[PubMed]]. These are two very different services at their core.<ref>[ MEDLINE, PubMed, and PMC (PubMed Central): How are they different?]</ref> While PubMed is a searchable database of biomedical citations and abstracts, the full-text article referenced in the PubMed record will physically reside elsewhere. (Sometimes in print, sometimes online, sometimes free, sometimes behind a toll-wall accessible only to paying subscribers). PubMed Central is a free digital archive of articles, accessible to anyone from anywhere via a basic web browser. The full text of all PubMed Central articles is free to read, with varying provisions for reuse.
{{As of|2016|12}}, the PMC archive contained over 4.1 million articles,<ref>"Openness by Default", ''Inside Higher Ed'', 16th January 2017.</ref> with contributions coming directly from publishers or authors depositing their own manuscripts into the repository per the [[NIH Public Access Policy]]. Older data shows that from Jan 2013 – Jan 2014 author-initiated deposits exceeded 103,000 papers during this 12-month period.<ref>[ NIH Manuscript Submission Statistics]</ref> PMC also identifies about 4,000 journals which now participate in some capacity to automatically deposit their published content into the PMC repository.<ref>[ PubMedCentral]</ref> Some participating publishers will delay the release of their articles on PubMed Central for a set time after publication, this is often referred to as an "embargo period", and can range from a few months to a few years depending on the journal. (Embargoes of six to twelve months are the most common). However, PubMed Central is a key example of "systematic external distribution by a third party"<ref></ref> which is still prohibited by the contributor agreements of many publishers.