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Authors' Rights in Scholarly Publishing: Publisher Policies on Self-Archiving

A guide to copyright in scholarly publishing, including negotiating with publishers, journal options, and self-archiving.


What is self-archiving? 

Self-archiving is when an author posts a work of theirs online in order to ensure that it is freely available to those who might want to utilize it. Self-archived documents are placed on an author's or professional website or in an institutional or subject repository. Different journals and publishers have different policies on whether they allow authors to self-archive, and what versions of their research can be posted.

Where can I find policies on self-archiving?

sherpa/romeo logo

SHERPA/RoMEO is a database of journal and publisher self-archiving policies. As of May 2020, it had over 4,250 publishers listed.


Transpose is a database of journal policies on peer review, co-reviewing, and preprinting. As of May 2020, it had over 3,000 journals listed.

Sources: Cirasella, J. (2015). [PowerPoint slides]. You know what you write, but do you know your rights? Understanding and protecting your rights as an author.; Harnad, S. (2001). The self-archiving initiativeNature, 410(6832), 1024-1025.

Finding Subject Repositories

Once you know what the self-archiving policies are for the journals you're interested in publishing in, you can look for discipline-specific repositories to deposit your work in.

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medRxiv  (pronounced "med-archive") is a preprint server for manuscripts in the health sciences, covering topics from addiction medicine to sports medicine to health systems and quality improvement.

bioRxiv (pronounced "bio-archive") is a preprint server for manuscripts in biology, covering topics from cancer biology to zoology.

OpenDOAR is a global directory of open access repositories.

The Open Access Directory (OAD) at Simmons College maintains a list of disciplinary repositories that includes both preprint and postprint repositories.