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Open Access

Author Rights

This guide is intended to inform University of Regina researchers topics of author rights and publication agreements.

This guide includes:

  • Key terms in publication agreements
  • Resources for locating publication agreements
  • Resources for negotiating your rights as an author

What do I need to know?

When you publish your article you enter into an agreement with the journal publisher. The conditions of the agreement will vary and it's important to understand what rights you are retaining and which ones you are revoking. In some cases you might transfer your copyright to the publisher, in which case you may have to obtain permission for future uses of your article. 

Why should I care?

  • Funding agencies often require authors maintain certain rights in order to comply with their funding policies.
  • You may want to use your article in various ways - for example, post it to a personal website, share it on social media, re-use graphs in future publications etc. You may or may not maintain these rights depending on the agreement you sign. 


Usually publishers will delineate different rights for different versions of your article.

Below are a list of commonly-used terms and explanations for these terms and an example


  • Also known as: Author’s original, Submitted version
  • Definition: The draft of an academic article and/or the initial submission to a journal. This may include initial and successive drafts of articles or working papers.


  • Also known as: Accepted version, Author's accepted manuscript (AAM)
  • Definition: The final version of an academic article at the point at which it has been accepted for publication. This is after it has been peer-reviewed and revised into its final form by the author MINUS any publisher enhancements (e.g. layout, typesetting, copy-editing etc.).
  • Note: Usually this is not provided by the publisher. Authors must save this draft themselves.
    • Tip: Use this guide to help you locate the post-print (accepted manuscript) in publisher systems. 

Publisher’s final version

  • Also known as: Publisher’s PDF, Version of Record (VoR)
  • Definition: The publisher’s final version of the paper, including formatting, typesetting, pagination, copy-editing, etc.
  • Note: Most publisher agreements provide the greatest rights for the pre-print and post-print. Typically the author is permitted to do little with the publisher's version. 


  • Also known as : Green open access
  • Definition: The process of depositing a copy of your article to a repository for preservation and open access purposes.
    • Repositories could be subject-based like arXiv or institutionally-based like the U of R's institutional repository, oURspace

Assigning vs Licensing

Assign/ transfer

An assignment is the transfer of some or all of your rights to another party (e.g. a publisher). This assignment can last for the entire term of the copyright or for a specified period of time.

You may see the terms copyright transfer agreement or copyright assignment agreement. These mean the same thing. 


A license gives another party permission to use your work under certain conditions, but you keep ownership of your copyright and the related rights. This can also work in the reverse; in many publishing agreements, you will transfer copyright to the publisher but the publisher will license certain rights back to you. 

There are two main types of licenses:

  • Exclusive: Under an exclusive license the transferred rights can be exercised only by the owner of the license (the licensee), and no one else, not even the person who granted the license (the licensor). For example, if you sign an exclusive license with Wiley to publish your article for the period of 2015-2016. This would mean that only Wiley can publish the article during the time period.
  • Non-exclusive: Under a non-exclusive license the transferred rights can be exercised by the owner of the license (the licensee), but the licensor also retains the right to continue exercising those rights herself and to authorize others to do so. Taking the above example, if you had signed a non-exclusive license with Wiley that means you could license your work to another publisher and/or you could publish it yourself. 

Locating publisher agreements

How do I know a journal's policies before I submit? 

Start with:

  • SHERPA/ROMEO database
    • Database of copyright policies relating to self-archiving 
    • Provides links to copyright policies on publishers' websites

For more extensive information, go directly to the publisher's website. 

Information may be found under these headings on the website:

  • Author information
  • Copyright
  • Permissions
  • Author guidelines
  • Open access
  • Instructions for authors

If in doubt, you can always contact the publisher or editor with specific questions.

Publisher information & sample agreements

What if I've already published? 

Check your journal policies using your article DOI at

Negotiating Agreements


The University of Arizona provides a very good overview of how to negotiate

  1. Your article is accepted for publication. 
    • Scenario 1: You are sent via email a publisher agreement as an attachment. 
    • Scenario 2: You accept the final version in the publisher's online manuscript portal. The agreement will be part of a click-through process. 

At this point it's important to determine which rights you are interested in maintaining. Like any negotiation, it's important to define what matters to you. 

Scenario 1:

Easiest of the two scenarios. You can engage in a back and forth with the publisher, striking out and adding language as needed. Refer once again to the University of Arizona guide

If you are using an addendum, Science Commons provides this set of steps once you are ready to write back to the publisher with your requests:

  1. Print any relevant addendum (see below for examples), and sign and date it.
  2. Sign and date the publisher's agreement. Immediately below your signature on the publisher's form, write: "Subject to attached Addendum." This is very important because you want to make clear that your signature is a sign that you accept the publisher's agreement only if the publisher accepts your Addendum.
  3. Make a copy of all three documents (the publisher's form, your Addendum, and your cover letter) for your records.
  4. Staple the three original documents together.
  5. Email the three original documents to the publisher.

(Source: Science Commons)

Scenario 2:

Still possible to negotiate but you will need to leave the manuscript system and liaise directly with the editor/publisher. In this case, you will attach an addendum to your email requesting whichever rights are most important to you. See section below for sample addendums. 

Tri-Agency Open Access Policy

For researchers who are subject to the Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications, the Agency provides sample wording to include in the Addendum for authors who need to negotiate in order to comply with the policy:

[Journal] acknowledges that the researcher will be entitled to archive an electronic copy of the final, peer-reviewed manuscript for inclusion in the Universit of Regina's oURspace institutional repository. Manuscripts archived with oURspace may be made freely available to the public, via the internet, within twelve months of the official date of final publication in the journal.

Source: Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications, Frequently-Asked Questions. 

Sample Addendums

here are several organizations that provide templates for author addendums.

The Rights requested column outlines the particular set of rights this addendum by default advocates for; these are suggestions. The author may include/remove any particular language as they see fit.

Here's an example of how one researcher used modified addendums in their negotiations

Addendum Rights requested
CARL Author Addendum (English, editable version)

(i) reproduce the Article in any material form for non-commercial purposes

(ii) to perform the Article in public for non-commercial purposes 

(iii) to convert the Article by preparing derivative works

(iv) to make a sound recording, cinematographic film or other contrivance by means of which the Article may be mechanically reproduced or performed for non-commercial purposes

(v) to reproduce, adapt and publicly present the Article as a cinematographic film for non-commercial purposes

(vi) to communicate the work to the public by telecommunication for non-commercial purposes

(vii) to authorize others to make any non-commercial use of the Article so long as Author receives credit as author and the journal in which the Article has been published is cited as the source of first publication of the Article. For example, Author may make and distribute copies in the course of teaching and research and may post the Article on personal or institutional Web sites and in other open access digital repositories

Additional commitments:  Publisher agrees to provide to Author within 14 days of first publication and at no charge an electronic copy of the published Article in Adobe Acrobat Portable Document Format (PDF). The Security Settings for such copy shall be set to “No Security.”

Scholar's Copyright Addendum Engine*

Each addendum gives you

  • non-exclusive rights to create derivative works from your Article
  • the right to reproduce, distribute, publicly perform, and publicly display your article in connection with your teaching, conference presentations, lectures, other scholarly works, and professional activities.
Thereafter there are three options for how soon you can make the final published version available and whether you can authorize others to re-use your work in various ways. Below is a summary of these options (source: Scholars Commons):

Three options: 

1. Access - Reuse:

You retain sufficient rights to grant to the reading public a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial license or similar license that allows the public to re-use or re-post your article so long as you are given credit as the author and so long as the reader's use is non-commercial. 

2. Immediate Access:

You retain sufficient rights to post a copy of the published version of your article (usually in pdf form) online immediately to a site that does not charge for access to the article. 

3. Delayed Access:
You also have the right immediately to post your final version of the article, as edited after peer review, to a site that does not charge for access to the article, but you must arrange not to make the published version of your article available to the public until six months after the date of publication.

* Note these addendums include by default language that refers to the United States government. 


This guide is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice. 


Content on this page has been copied and adapted from McGill Library's Author Rights Libguide, available under a CC BY 4.0 license.

Contact Us

The Dr. John Archer Library assists researchers with understanding and negotiating their rights as authors. Contact: Christina Winter, Copyright and Scholarly Communications Librarian at