Skip navigation to content

Copyright, versions and open access

What is open access?

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. Copyright holders control the right to permit open access and have the right to be properly acknowledged. Senior managers at all the Scottish Universities have signed the Scottish Declaration on Open Access, committing their institutions to establishing institutional repositories for this purpose.

What do funders say about open access and repositories?

An increasing number of important funding bodies now have policies in place that require grant holders to make their research papers publically available in an Open Access manner.

Research Councils UK states:

Free and open access to publicly-funded research offers significant social and economic benefits. The Government, in line with its overarching commitment to transparency and open data, is committed to ensuring that such research should be freely accessible. As major bodies charged with investing public money in research, the Research Councils take very seriously their responsibilities in making the outputs from this research publicly available – not just to other researchers, but also to potential users in business, charitable and public sectors, and to the general public.

Many individual funders have published statements committing them to these principles:

Wellcome Trust

Research Councils UK

Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE)

European Commission

How do I know what copyright policies apply to my publication?

You can find information in the publishing agreement you signed, which may be called an Exclusive Licence or Copyright Transfer Agreement. There will usually be information on the publisher's website (on a "for authors" page) or try the SHERPA / RoMEO database which lists most standard policies and how they affect full text deposit. Most publishers will allow you to deposit your author accepted version (postprint), after peer review but before the publisher’s formatting is applied.

Library staff will use the RoMEO database to check publishers' standard copyright policies, any restrictions such as embargo periods or conditions such as linking to publisher websites. We will meet these conditions for you before making articles publicly available.

Do I own copyright in my articles?

This depends on the agreement you have signed with the publisher. For more information on author's rights and retaining copyright please see the Copyright Toolbox for authors and the Versions Toolkit to help you consider copyright for all potential research outputs. The SPARC Author Rights Initiative is also a useful source of information.

What is the deposit licence that appears when I upload documents?

The deposit licence is an agreement that allows us to add your items to the repository and make them publicly available. By agreeing the licence you also confirm your responsibility for the content and that you have permission from any copyright holders.  The deposit licence also gives permission for the repository to store and migrate content as required to future platforms, thus ensuring permanent digital storage and archiving.

What about third party copyright?

If the copyright on any of the material you deposit, e.g. illustrations, is owned by others, then you are responsible for ensuring you have the permission of the copyright holder, or that the inclusion of this third party copyright material can be considered ‘fair use’.



Digital Research

Old Union Diner
Butts Wynd
St Andrews
KY16 9AL
Scotland, United Kingdom

Tel: 01334 462321