Open access and copyright

Last changed: 22 September 2016 -

In traditional scientific publishing authors sign away their economic rights to the publishers. To make your publications open access you need to know their copyright status. This page focuses on scientific articles.

As an author you will sign a publishing agreement when your manuscript has been accepted to a journal. This agreement regulates your rights and obligations, as well as the publisher's.

If you want to self-archive your article to make it available open access, i.e. deposit a copy in for instance the SLU open archive Epsilon, you need to know what your rights are. If you have published in an open access journal, you often keep the copyright and are free to do what you want with your article. If you have published in a traditional journal you need to know what the publisher allows. Best practice is, of course, to make sure you know your rights before you sign anything!

What am I allowed to do with my publication?

To find out what your particular journal or publisher allows, SHERPA/RoMEO is a useful tool. It contains a directory of most publishers and journals as well as their policies on self archiving. About 75 percent of all publishers listed there do allow self-archiving on certain terms.  

Even if your publisher does allow self-archiving it is uncommon to be allowed to deposit the article exactly as it appears in the journal. Most publishers, instead, will let you archive the so called accepted manuscript, i.e the final document you sent to be printed, after peer review changes have been made, but without the publisher's logotype, font, etc. It is also common for publishers to impose an embargo on the self-archived text, which means the file cannot be made publicly available until a certain amount of time has passed since official publication.

Author Addendum

In some cases authors can use a so called author addendum to ask permission to retain the right to self-archive in an open archive. For this purpose you may enclose the SPARC author addendum to your publishing agreement. Read SPARC's information on how to use the addendum. 

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