Abstract: Introduction. The National Institutes of Health public access policy requires the principal investigators of any Institutes-funded research to submit their manuscript to PubMed Central, and the open access publisher Public Library of Science submits all articles to PubMed Central, irrespective of funder. Whether the investigators, who made the decision to publish in one of the seven Public Library of Science journals were motivated by the National Institutes’ public access policy or by the journals’ quality standards is unknown.
Method. Forty-two Institutes-funded investigators who had published in one of the seven journals between 2005 and 2009 were interviewed, using a semi-structured, open-ended interview schedule.
Analysis. Qualitative analysis was conducted, dividing the participants into those who published in the journals before the mandatory policy (pre-mandate) and those who published after the policy (post-mandate).
Results. The Institutes-funded investigators submitted to the Public Library of Science journals because they favour the high impact factor, fast publication speed, fair peer-review system and the articles/ immediate open access availability.
Conclusions. The requirements of the National Institutes’ public access policy do not influence the investigators’ decision to submit to one of the Public Library of Science journals and do not increase their familiarity with open access publishing options.