What information is on this page?

Link to the University's rights retention pilot

What is the problem?

What can researchers do?

What are publishers doing?


Find out more about the University's rights retention pilot


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What is the problem? 

At the moment, a huge amount of publicly funded research is locked away behind publisher paywalls, limiting access and slowing down research. Researchers and their funders have started to look for ways to open this research to all. 

Wherever possible, Cambridge University Libraries sign up for agreements that enable our researchers to publish openly within their journal of choice.  Unfortunately, not all publishers offer routes to publishing that are aligned with funder requirements and some of those who do charge unaffordable prices. 

The good news is that publishers are not automatically entitled to take all rights away from researchers! You do have a choice about whether or not to sign your copyright away, though it doesn’t always feel like it...  

How well do you know your rights as an author? Take the quiz to find out more.

What can researchers do? 

When you submit an article, include the following rights retention statement in your cover letter and acknowledgments:

'For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission.’ 

This tells the publisher that you have already applied a licence to your work, so they are aware in advance that you have exercised your right to share your accepted manuscript widely. If they don’t like it, they should desk reject and not waste your or their time. 

If publishers refuse to provide a compliant route to publishing, they are stating that they don’t want to publish works supported by any of the cOAlition S funders - not a sustainable position!  

When your paper is accepted (after peer review but before the final editing etc), just upload the accepted version as usual by clicking the ‘Accepted for publication’ button on the Open Access website. This will mean that we can make your article open to the world even if the journal doesn’t. 

The Open Access team will also let you know if there are any additional funder requirements, for example depositing the paper in another specific repository.  

While there is no need to do so, if you would like to make enquiries with publishers before submitting an article containing the rights retention statement, Jisc provided some helpful templates

What are publishers doing? 

Some publishers are causing confusion by pushing back on researchers retaining their rights. For example, they may ask you to sign a conflict

ing contract, or ask for an APC payment.  

To support our researchers, we are running a pilot giving them the option to assign a non-exclusive licence to the University in advance. This gives researchers confidence about where they stand and gives the Open Access team a stronger hand in supporting them. It does NOT prevent the publisher from publishing the article as well. 

We will actively review what happens during the pilot period and use what we’ve learned when we next review our Open Access Policy. Remember though, this is not new – Harvard researchers started retaining their rights in 2008!  

Huge thanks to the University of Edinburgh for sharing their experience with us and to Harvard for so openly sharing their approach.