Author’s Guide to Self-Archiving, Publication Versions and Permissions

Self-archiving is the process of depositing your scholarly work into a digital repository. cIRcle is UBC’s open access digital repository. Its aim is to showcase and preserve UBC’s unique intellectual output by making content freely available to anyone, anywhere via the web. Before you self-archive in cIRcle, you need to be aware of how copyright might affect your ability to share your work. This guide discusses some of the copyright and reuse issues authors should consider.

Access the pdf of this guide here.

When you deposit a work in cIRcle, you grant permission to make your work freely available online and to preserve it as technology changes. You also grant cIRcle permission to make the work available under a Creative Commons (CC) license, specifically the CC BY-NC-ND (Attribution NonCommercial NoDerivs). This CC license permits others to download and share your work as long as they credit you, but they can’t change it or use it commercially. You can assign a different Creative Commons license to your work for more flexible reuse permissions.

Additional definitions and terms can be found at SHERPA/RoMEO.

Depositing in cIRcle does not change the copyright ownership of the work, whether it is held by you or the publisher. As an author, you generally hold the copyright to your work. However, when you publish a book or paper, publishers usually ask you to transfer some or all of your copyright to them. This is done through a publishing contract, usually called a publication agreement or copyright transfer agreement. For previously published works, if copyright ownership rests with the publisher, you’ll need to ensure you have permission to deposit your work in the repository. It is important to look carefully at your agreement. Many authors do not realize what rights they are signing away or that they can negotiate the terms of their publishing contracts. We strongly encourage exploring your options for negotiating with publishers. Check their websites for copyright and archiving policies, and keep a copy of your publications agreement so you can easily verify terms for sharing your work. Another tool for locating permissions is SHERPA/RoMEO (, which provides details of the self-archiving rights given by the various publishers.

Publishers’ policies vary on whether you can deposit your work in a digital repository such as cIRcle. They may also have different policies for different versions of the same work. Authors should be familiar with three publication versions: pre-print, post-print and published.

Most publishers do not allow authors to self-archive the final, published version of a work. However, many do allow you to self-archive earlier versions (pre-prints and post-prints). Since the content of a post-print is often similar to the final published version of an article, we highly encourage authors to deposit their post-prints in cIRcle, whenever permitted.

Note that many publishers only allow self-archiving a work after an embargo period, typically 6 to 12 months. cIRcle has the ability to embargo items for set periods. We encourage you to submit works to cIRcle as soon as possible, and inform us of the appropriate embargo period, after which it will be made openly available. Canada’s Tri-Agencies (SSHRC, NSERC, CIHR), require grant recipients to ensure that any peer-reviewed journal publications arising from Agency supported research are freely accessible within 12 months.

Authors are sometimes concerned that by making their scholarship openly accessible over the Internet, their works are more susceptible to plagiarism. But when a work is made openly available, it can also make plagiarism easier to detect. As open access advocate Peter Suber puts it:

OA [Open Access] deters plagiarism. […] OA might make plagiarism easier to commit, for people trolling for text to cut and paste. But for the same reason, OA makes plagiarism more hazardous to commit. Insofar as OA makes plagiarism easier, it’s only for plagiarism from OA sources. But plagiarism from OA sources is the easiest kind to detect. Not all plagiarists are smart, of course, but the smart ones are steering clear of OA sources.[1]

Some authors also wonder whether self-archiving an unpublished work (for example, conference proceedings or graduate theses and dissertations) will affect its likelihood of publication in the future. Many publishers will consider publishing a work that expands on or is adapted from a previously self-archived work. For example, if you self-archive a paper presented at a conference but then later substantially revise it and decide to submit it to a publisher, this would usually be considered new work, not a prior publication. If you are thinking of publishing your work in a traditional scholarly journal, you should check the “prior publication information” of the journal before self-archiving. Most traditional scholarly publishers do not publish “prior publications.” Publisher attitudes about this topic vary considerably by discipline.

cIRcle and the Scholarly Communications Office at UBC Library can advise you on self-archiving permissions. Your best strategy is always to determine publisher policies on copyright and self-archiving early in the submission process.

For more information or additional help, please contact cIRcle or Scholarly Communications Office:

  1. Suber, Peter (October 2, 2006). “Open access and quality”. SPARC Open Access Newsletter.

Additional Resources

This guide was adapted (with permission) from two publications by Harrison W. Inefuku (2013):