Open access

Publisher copyright policies


Unless a fee is paid to make a work 'gold' open access, publishers will almost always stipulate a period of time during which the full text of a research output (eg a journal article or book chapter) should not be publicly available for download after depositing in an institutional repository.



The SHERPA/RoMEO database provides summaries of most journal publishers’ policies regarding repository deposit and copyright, including information on embargo periods. SHERPA/RoMEO assigns a 'colour code' to publishers and journals according to the version of an article that a publisher will permit to be deposited. Green, blue and yellow indicate that some version of an article is permitted, whilst white means that repository deposit is not formally supported.

Many publishers will allow you to deposit the author’s accepted manuscript (AAM). This version is also known as the ‘post-print’. This refers to the final draft manuscript submitted to the publisher after any revisions made following peer review. It is usually a Word document and may be converted to PDF if desired. It is not the publisher’s proofs or publisher’s final version.

If the journal you wish to publish in does not formally allow repository deposit, you may wish to confirm with the publisher directly, or contact the Repository Team at who may be able to contact the publisher on your behalf.

For full details of some publishers’ range of journals (eg Elsevier and Wiley), you may need to check directly on the publisher’s website.

Brief details of the embargo policies of some of the major publishers are set out below, including links to further information:

Publisher Version of Article Permitted Embargo Further Information
BioMed Central Published Version of Record (VOR) No embargo Find out more
Cambridge University Press Author’s Accepted Manuscript (AAM)

No embargo for journals in social sciences and humanities (SSH)

6 months for journals in science, technology and medicine (STM)

Find out more
Elsevier AAM 12-48 months, depending on the journal List of Elsevier journals
Emerald AAM No embargo Find out more
Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins (Wolters Kluwer) AAM 12 months Find out more
Oxford University Press AAM

12 months for STM journals

24 months for SSH journals

Find out more
Palgrave Macmillan AAM 12 months Find out more
Policy Press AAM 12 months Find out more
The Royal Society AAM No embargo Find out more
SAGE AAM No embargo Find out more
Springer AAM 12 months Find out more
Taylor & Francis AAM

12 months for STM journals

18 months for SSH journals

List of Taylor & Francis journals
Wiley AAM

12 months for STM journals

24 months for SSH journals

List of Wiley journals


Conference proceedings

For unpublished works, or if you (or a co-author) have not signed a publishing agreement, you will normally be the rights-holder for your article. You should check on the conference's website for further information.

For most major conferences, a publishing agreement will be signed by at least one of the co-authors. Many publishers of proceedings will allow the author accepted manuscript to be made open access with no embargo period:

Publisher Version of Paper Permitted Embargo Further Information
ACM Author's Accepted Manuscript (AAM) No embargo Find out more
IEEE AAM No embargo Find out more
Springer Selected conference proceedings only: AAM

0-12 months (selected conference proceedings series only)

For other monographs: usually not allowed

Find out more


Books and book chapters

As with journal articles, many publishers afford self-archiving rights to authors of monographs and chapters as part of edited volumes. However, the embargo periods stipulated by publishers can vary from 0 up to 36 months. For monographs and edited volumes, authors are usually allowed to deposit one chapter.

Authors of reference works (such as handbooks and encyclopaedias) and textbooks are not usually allowed to self-archive their work due to the different business model involved with publishing these works.

You should check your copyright transfer form or publishing agreement for exact details of your right to deposit your work. For older publications, you may want to check the up-to-date policies with the publisher. If you are due to sign a publishing agreement, embargo periods may be negotiable – ask your publisher.

If you are unsure about the embargo period, or the publisher does not allow deposit, please contact the rights & permissions department of the relevant publisher for clarification.

The table below indicates the general policies for major publishers who allow some form of repository deposit:

Publisher Extent and Version of Text Permitted Embargo Further Information
Bloomsbury One chapter: Author’s Accepted Manuscript (AAM) 18 months Find out more
Cambridge University Press One chapter: AAM or Published Version of Record (VOR) 6 months Find out more
Edward Elgar One chapter: AAM 6 months Find out more
Emerald One chapter: AAM No embargo Find out more
Oxford University Press One chapter or up to 10% of the work: AAM

12 months for STM books

24 months for other academic and trade titles

Find out more
Palgrave Macmillan One chapter: AAM 36 months Find out more
Policy Press Up to 20% of monograph: AAM 24 months, permission should be sought via email Find out more
Routledge One chapter: AAM

12 months for STM books

18 months for Humanities and Social Science books

Find out more
Springer Selected conference proceedings only: AAM

0-12 months (selected conference proceedings series only)

For other monographs: usually not allowed

Find out more


Copyright FAQ

You will normally sign a publishing agreement or copyright transfer form when you have an article, book or book chapter accepted for publication. If you are a co-author, the corresponding author may have signed on behalf of all the authors.

You may only deposit items to the UWL Repository if you are the author and you have not accepted any contractual restrictions preventing you from depositing the work in an institutional repository.

Who owns the copyright in my work?

As an author, you are often the main copyright owner. However, publishers usually make it a condition in their publishing agreements that the author assign copyright ownership in a work to the publisher – this effectively transfers all rights to deal with a work from the author to the publisher. Alternatively, you may sign a publishing agreement where the author retains copyright, but you sign over almost all rights of publication and distribution to the publisher.

However, for journal articles and book chapters, many publishers allow authors to retain a number of re-use rights as standard. These include the right to deposit the author’s accepted manuscript (ie the final peer reviewed manuscript) in an institutional repository, and to make that version available open access to the public.

For more information about publisher policies please refer to the SHERPA website, to publishers’ open access or copyright FAQ pages, and to the information listed on the Library’s copyright information pages.

Who owns the copyright in unpublished work?

For unpublished work (such as unpublished conference papers or conference presentation slides), where no copyright or publishing agreement has been signed during the submission process, you will normally remain the copyright holder.

Who owns the copyright in commissioned reports?

If you have prepared a report under contract, the rights you have retained as an author should be detailed in your contract with the party which commissioned the work. When writing reports, check who (ie you, department, the commissioning organisation, etc.) should be listed as the copyright holder.

What are Creative Commons Licenses?

Creative Commons copyright licenses are an alternative to ‘all rights reserved’ copyright attributions. They are an indication of open access content, and they clearly stipulate what re-uses can be made of a publication. A range of licenses are available, and some are more restrictive than others.

As Creative Commons licenses are built upon normal copyright laws, they allow authors to retain copyright while granting authors the right to variously reuse, redistribute and build upon work, at least non-commercially. For more information see:

Creative Commons licenses are often assigned by publishers to ‘gold’ open access articles (ie where a fee has been paid to make an article open access upon publication).

Can I deposit work I have written with other people?

You can deposit material written collaboratively with members of other institutions, provided that no agreement with a publisher or funding body prevents you from doing so.

Can I deposit work that contains reproductions of third party copyright material?

You should have obtained the written permission of the copyright owner to include the work in your published material as part of the publication process. Unless this permission explicitly allowed for the material to be reproduced in an institutional repository, you will need to secure separate written permission to do this.

Do I need to add copyright statements to my deposits?

No. Library staff will add these to deposits where applicable. Please let us know if you know of any special copyright statement that should be included with a deposit.

What if I am not allowed to deposit my work, will my work be admissible to the next REF?

Possibly. The REF rules are not designed to prevent you from publishing in the most appropriate journal as some provision is made for publishing in non-compliant journals. Please contact the Repository team at for further advice and see the open access FAQ page.

Who can I contact for further information on copyright?

If you need advice on copyright you can direct queries to the Head of Academic Support. Alternatively, copyright information is available from the Copyright Licensing Agency or the UK Copyright Service. Advice about copyright related to open access can also be sought from the Repository Team.

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