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Copyright and Open Access

Find information on copyright, fair use, author's rights, open access, finding copyright friendly permissions and Creative Commons licenses for licensing your work.

Defining Open Access

Open access (OA) refers to content freely available on the public internet. It often carries less restrictive copyright and licensing terms than traditionally published works, but it is copyrighted.

While OA is a newer form of scholarly publishing (which is commonly described as starting in 2002), many OA journals comply with well-established peer-review processes and maintain high publishing standards. For more information, see Peter Suber's overview of Open Access:

Content described as OA can be in formats other than journal articles. For example, it might entail textbooks or other educational content in the form of Open Educational Resources (OER's).


Some definitions

pre-print: the version of a publication before it's been edited by peer-review

post-print: the version of a publication after it's been edited by peer-review but before it's been type set into the final version of record

version of record: the publication which is formally published, such as on a journal website


Green OA publishing refers to the self-archiving of published or pre-publication works for free public use. Authors provide access to preprints or post-prints (with publisher permission) in an institutional or disciplinary archive such as WM Publish and


Gold OA publishing refers to works published in an open access journal and accessed via the journal or publisher's website. Examples of Gold OA include PLOS (Public Library of Science) and BioMed Central.

Open Access Explained

Is it harder to publish elsewhere if your dissertation or thesis is open access?

Scholarly research indicates that not only are publishers offering more open access content from their own platforms, but they are increasingly receptive to publishing content which originally was posted as open access elsewhere. For example, they are often allowing for more posting of pre-prints (content before editorial review) as well as post-prints (content which has been edited but not formatted into a reprint). Generally, this is because scholarship goes under extensive editing between initial publication as a thesis or dissertation and acceptance into a peer-review publication. The articles below speak to this effect.

Ramírez, Marisa L., et al. "Do Open Access Electronic Theses and Dissertations Diminish Publishing Opportunities in the Sciences?" College & Research Libraries 75.6 (2014): 808-821.
Sherpa/ROMEO statistics indicate that nearly 80% of the the nearly 2500 publishers they track allow for posting of pre-prints and/or post-prints.
Truschke, Audrey. Open Access and Dissertation Embargoes. Dissertation Reviews (April 6, 2015)
Truschke, Audrey. Publishing a Revised Dissertation. Dissertation Reviews (April 13, 2015)


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