Open access: Copyright and CC-licenses

Last changed: 28 August 2023

All peer-reviewed articles and SLU publications must be published openly available. On this page you can read about what you need to know about copyright and choice of CC license when publishing with open access.

Publishing openly means that you as the author give other people the opportunity to read, download, copy and distribute your work and this is required according to SLU's policy for scientific publishing. You therefore need to be familiar with copyright and what applies when choosing a license for open access publishing. This page cover what to think of when it comes to publications but not underlying data. 

Choosing a CC-license

When you publish in a journal with open access, you choose an open license for your publication, usually a so-called Creative Commons license (CC license). By assigning a CC license to your publication, you give users/readers clear information about what they can and cannot do with the publication.

SLU has no explicit guidelines for which license you should choose when publishing in a scientific journal. Some publishers only offer the most open CC license, CC-BY, others may ask you to choose from the various licenses. Please note that your funders may require you to select a specific license for the publication of research results obtained through funded projects. Formas and the Swedish Research Council have such guidelines for granted project.

SLU recommends that you choose a CC-license for publications published by SLU, according to guidelines for SLU publications. The guidelines do not specify which license you should choose. 

Below you can read about the four most common licenses in scientific publishing. If you are unsure of the meaning of the different licenses, you are welcome to contact the library.

CC BY, Creative Commons Attribution

This license means that the work may be re-distributed, remixed, adapted and built upon. The author must be attributed. The license allows for commercial use.

CC BY-ND, Creative Commons Attribution, No-Derivs

This license means that distribution commercially as well as non-commercially is permitted. No derivatives or adaptions are allowed, the work should be copied or distributed in its original form. The author must be attributed.

CC BY-NC, Creative Commons Attribution, Non-Commercial

This license means that the work may be re-distributed, remixed, adapted and built upon but not for commercial purposes. The author must be attributed.

CC BY-NC-ND, Creative Commons Attribution, Non-Commercial, No-Derivs

This license allows copying and re-distribution but not in a commercial context. No derivatives or adaptions are allowed, the work should be copied or distributed in its original form. The author must be attributed.

To consider when publishing in a subscription-based journal

To be able to publish with open access also in a subscription-based journal, you should check the following before signing an agreement with the publisher:

  • If you retain the rights to distribute your article openly and how it may be distributed.
  • If the journal accepts self-archiving (also known as green OA or parallel publishing) and in that case which version of the publication may be shared openly via SLUpub. 
  • If you can assign your article a CC license for self-archiving.
  • If the journal applies an embargo (time-delay) for self-archiving and how it relates to any requirements your financier makes.


Copyright and Open Access publishing

Copyright legislation provides legal protection to the author of a work. This also applies to a work that is published with open access. As an author, copyright is automatically applied to the work when the work is created and it consists of two parts:

  • Moral rights – you have the right to be named as the author of your work, as well as to oppose any improper use of the work.
  • Economic rights - you have the rights to control how your work is distributed, published, sold etc.

When a manuscript has been accepted for publication in a journal, you sign a publication agreement that regulates your rights and obligations towards the publisher. This applies regardless of the type of journal, but be extra careful if you intend to publish in a subscription-based journal. If you publish in an open journal, you usually retain the copyright to your publication and are free to do whatever you want with it.