What are IRPs?
Interim Research Products (IRPs) are defined by the NIH as "...complete, public research products that are not final".
A preprint is a type of IRP.
Typically a preprint is a completed draft of a scientific document of a manuscript made public before being accepted by a journal of publication.These manuscripts are written using a peer-reviewed journal article style but are not yet peer reviewed. Preprints are often released to "speed dissemination, establish priority, obtain feedback, and offset publication bias".
A preregistered protocol is another common type of iterum product. A researcher will publicly declare key elements of their research protocol in advance. The reasoning can be to "enhance the rigor of their work".
You are not required to create interim research products through your NIH award.
Applicants are not required to cite interim research products as part of their grant applications.
Preprints do not fall under the NIH public access policy because they are not published in peer-reviewed journals.
This guide notice does not apply to clinical trial registration. For registration of clinical trial protocols information see ClinicalTrials.gov.
Why choose this option before official acceptance to a publication?
There are several purposes for making preprints or other interim research products publication available.
Establishing priority (release information and get a "timestamp" on your work).
Peer review and the editorial process can be slow so this allows the work to be accessible and you can refer to it in other publications, a grant application or grant progress reports.
Image By Thomas Shafee - Own work; adapted from diagram by Ginny Barbour, CC BY 4.0
Notice Number NOT-OD-17-050 on March 24, 2017 announced the new NIH policy on preprints and interim research products, Reporting Preprints and Other Interim Research Products. Effective May 25, 2017, the information regarding preprint and IRP use and citations in NIH forms can be used. This announcement is available on the NIH website.