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Open access definitions

Open access (OA): Open access in this context means research literature that can be freely accessed by anyone in the world via the internet so that it can be used without licensing restrictions for research, teaching or other purposes. Scholarly norms for attribution still apply to open access publications, so authors should always be properly acknowledged. Copyright also applies, and the rights holder (often the publisher) controls the right to permit open access.

Preprint or submitted version: This is the author's original manuscript as submitted to a journal, before any peer review has taken place.

Author accepted manuscript (also called accepted manuscript, final author version or post-print): This is the version normally used for 'green' open access. It is the accepted, author-created version following peer review and editing. The text and any diagrams can be exactly the same as the published version, but does not include the publishers' logos, final formatting or typesetting. You can attach a coversheet with links to the published version and any copyright statements, to assist with citation and proper acknowledgement. The preferred file format for depositing in a repository is PDF (Word files can be converted to PDF).

Published version: This is the definitive version as published in the journal, also called the version of record. See information about the 'publication record' from CrossMark.

The Versions Toolkit provides useful explanations of the various versions of journal articles produced during the research process. See recommended practice from the National Information Standards Organization (NISO RP-8-2008, Journal Article Versions (JAV))

Deposition/'self-archiving'/posting: These terms refer to the open access route where the author makes a version of his/her publication available in a repository or other online situation. This is usually an author-created version and is allowed by many publishers even when copyright is transferred to them. See the SHERPA/RoMEO database for examples of publishers' self-archiving policies.

'Green' open access: Subject to copyright, authors can deposit or 'self-archive' copies of their articles in repositories alongside their publication in normal journals. This is often referred to as ‘Green’ open access. The available evidence shows that this does not affect journal subscriptions, and 80% of publishers formally allow some form of self-archiving (SHERPA/RoMEO statistics).

'Gold' open access: An alternative way of providing open access is to publish in an open access journal, often known as the ‘Gold’ route. Open access journals make all their articles available for free to all readers and use a variety of business models to achieve this, rather than charging for subscriptions. One model is to charge authors for publication services, either at submission or acceptance, or there may be charges for additional services such as print-on-demand. Alternatively the journal may receive sponsorship from a society or charitable organisation. Most open access journals carry out the same level of peer review on their articles as 'traditional' journals.

Embargoes: Some publishers will have a restriction on when an author version of an article can be made openly available after it has been deposited in a repository. This is often 6-12 months after publication, and will normally be mentioned in your copyright agreement. You should consider if the publisher’s embargo period is compatible with a funder’s requirement for open access.

We recommend you deposit author accepted author manuscripts immediately, and the Open Access team will set the appropriate embargo.