Depending on exactly what publisher you work with, and what sort of author contract you sign, you may retain OR give up the rights to do certain things with your article, such as:
Before you consider taking action with a published article, be sure you find out what rights you have retained or signed over to the publisher. Reading your copyright agreement or publication contract is a good place to start.
The resources on this page will help you identify what actions you can or cannot take with your article after publication.
If you have not published YET, you may want to review the resources in this guide for Negotiating Publishing Contracts.
Search SHERPA/RoMEO for a journal title. The results page for that journal will indicate, with green checks or red x's, which of three article versions are and are not permitted for self-archival in a repository. (For more details on the three article versions, see the box below, Understanding Manuscript Versions.)
The General Conditions statements will indicate any applicable embargo periods or other conditions. For publishers with many titles, you may need to refer to the Journal Embargo Period List to confirm the embargo for this specific journal.
Click on the screenshot below to view a larger version.
Publishers often make distinctions between three primary versions of a manuscript when detailing the archive or deposit rights retained by authors: the pre-print, the post-print and the publishers version.
Pre-print – A pre-print is the original version of the manuscript as it is submitted to a journal. While the authors may have sought help from their colleagues in selecting data analysis techniques, improving manuscript clarity, and correcting grammar, the pre-print has not been through a process of peer review. It typically looks like a term paper – a double spaced .doc file with minimal formatting.
Post-print – A post-print is a document that has been through the peer review process and incorporated reviewers comments. It is the final version of the paper before it is sent off the the journal for publication. It may be missing a final copyedit (if the journal still does that) and won’t be formatted to look like the journal. It still looks like the double spaced .doc file. Sometimes, the term “pre-print” is used interchangeably with “post-print,” but when it comes to permissions issues, it is important to clarify which version of a manuscript is being discussed.
Publishers version/PDF – This is the version of record that is published on the publishers website. It will look quite spiffy, having been professionally typeset by the publisher. Library databases will link to this version of the paper.
Generally speaking, publishers are more likely to be okay with authors posting copies of pre-print versus other manuscript versions. But each journal is different, and authors need to be aware of what they can do. The copyright transfer agreement is the best place to find this information.
It may sometimes be possible to regain certain rights to past works that were already transferred to a publisher.
Authors Alliance provides tools to support two possible mechanisms: Rights Reversion and Termination of Transfer.