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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 is a database of journal and publisher self-archiving policies. As of February 2024, it had over 3,600 publishers listed.

Transpose is a database of journal policies on peer review, co-reviewing, and preprinting. As of February 2024, it had over 3,100 journals listed.


Cirasella J. You know what you write, but do you know your rights? Understanding and protecting your rights as an author [PowerPoint presentation]. CUNY Graduate Center. [updated 2015; cited 2021 Feb 5]. Available from:

Harnad S. (2001). The self-archiving initiative. Nature [Internet]. 2001 Apr [cited 2021 Feb 5];410(6832):1024-1025. Available from:

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.

Person typing on a Macbook with a notebook and plants next to them

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.


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