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The Right Retention Pilot is ending on April 1st 2023. In advance of this date, the University is currently consulting on a full self-archiving policy incorporating rights retention. Details of this proposed policy can be found here:


These webpages contain information on the rights retention pilot currently in place at the University of Cambridge.

The University needs to be able to disseminate research and scholarship as widely as possible and comply with its funder requirements, while enabling its researchers to publish in a journal of their choice. 

In order to achieve this, the University has established pilot rights retention scheme on an opt-in basis. This pilot will be closely monitored and reviewed with a view to informing the next revision of the University’s Open Access policy.

Sign up to the pilot


During this time, if you sign up for the pilot, you should include the following wording in a prominent place in the manuscript (e.g. the acknowledgements and/or funding statement) and cover letter from the initial point of submission:

'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'

Upon editorial acceptance, please upload a copy of the accepted manuscript to Symplectic Elements. The Open Access team will deposit the manuscript into Apollo and will release it publicly at the appropriate time.

This pilot is based on the approach that the University of Edinburgh is taking with their new Research Publications and Copyright Policy and considers the advice of Harvard University, where rights retention statements have been in use since 2008. We thank both universities for sharing their materials and welcome the reuse of the contents of our document by other institutions. 

The pilot 

  1. The University confirms the current practice and position set out in the University’s regulations on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) that members of staff own the copyright to their scholarly works (subject to any third-party rights which they may have previously agreed).  
  2. Staff and research students of the University are encouraged to sign up to the Rights Retention Pilot, which will run from 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2023.
  3. The researcher agrees to grant the University a non‐exclusive, irrevocable, worldwide, sub-licensable licence to make the accepted manuscripts of their scholarly articles publicly available under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence (or an alternative licence if requested, in line with funder requirements – such alternative terms are likely to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis for the purpose of this pilot).
  4. The researcher will include the following wording in their submitted manuscript and any submission cover letter/note:  “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".  
  5. On acceptance, the researcher or their chosen representative will upload an electronic copy of the accepted manuscript into Symplectic Elements.  
  6. The University will deposit the accepted manuscript in the institutional repository, with article metadata usually available immediately upon deposit and the accepted manuscript being made accessible to the public at the appropriate time (a publisher-requested delay or ‘embargo period’ between publication of the version of record and open access of the deposited version will not be acceptable under the relevant funder terms).  
  7. This pilot applies to all scholarly journal articles, including conference proceedings with an International Standards Serial Number (ISSN), authored or co-authored during the pilot, which includes any third-party content where rights in that content have been secured.   
  8. Note: this pilot applies only to first copyright in authored research publications. It does not extend to other IPR in research, which is already covered by the University’s regulations on IPR.  
  9. Whilst the pilot does not include monographs, scholarly editions, textbooks, book chapters, collections of essays, datasets, or other outputs that are not scholarly articles, the University strongly encourages researchers to make them as openly available as possible. Advice is available through the Office of Scholarly Communication. 
  10. The researcher can voluntarily opt out of immediate open access upon publication or the assignation of a CC BY licence for a particular article. However, this may cause the research output to be non-compliant with funder policies. 
  11. If a takedown notice is received from a publisher for a particular article, the repository version will be placed under temporary embargo. The incident will be reviewed by the Rights Retention Working Group and logged as part of the evaluation of the pilot.
  12. Participants in this pilot will be invited to contribute to its evaluation. All feedback received will inform the revision of the University’s Open Access Policy.  
  13. The pilot will be contextualised by a full communication and engagement plan to help keep the community informed and will have review points to allow adjustment or widening of the scheme if there is sufficient academic buy-in. 


What is the purpose of the pilot?

The pilot will support authors to retain their rights to academic publications in order to release them open access immediately upon publication. While retaining rights is not a new approach, we are piloting the scheme to understand any issues with supporting researchers to retain their copyright.

How long will the pilot last?

For one year from April 1st 2022 until March 31st 2023. The pilot will be evaluated to understand how the University can best support rights retention in future.

How do I opt-in to the pilot?

Individuals can opt in via this form. It is unfortunately not possible to sign up on behalf of a group of people (e.g. a department) at this stage, but we encourage you to share the link with colleagues across the university so the pilot can be informed by a broad range of disciplinary perspectives.

How do I inform a publisher of my intention to retain my rights?

Each time you submit a new manuscript to a publisher, make sure to include the following wording in a prominent place in the manuscript (e.g. the acknowledgements and/or funding statement) and cover letter from the initial point of submission:

'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'

When publishing in a subscription journal, you should follow the publisher's standard subscription publishing route as the article will be made open access in Apollo rather than on the journal platform.

What if a publisher refuses to publish my manuscript?

While a publisher is under no obligation to consider a manuscript containing a rights retention declaration, they should decline to publish such articles at the earliest possible opportunity and allow you to submit to another journal. This is why it is crucial to include the declaration in the cover letter and manuscript from the point of submission.

What if a publisher asks for an article-processing charge before publication?

You should select the subscription publication route at the point of submission, not the open access route which may incur a fee. The prior agreement with the university will take precedence over anything the publisher asks you to sign. Please note that, in certain disciplines, publishers still levy page charges, colour fees and other associated fees for publication. These are separate to open access fees and publishers may require payment before publication. Please email the Open Access team if you'd like guidance on a specific example.

What if a publisher requires me to sign a copyright transfer agreement that conflicts with the pre-existing agreement with the University?

While a publisher may require the signature of a copyright transfer agreement upon acceptance, we have received legal advice that as long as the publisher has been made aware that a CC BY licence has already been applied to any accepted version arising from the submitted manuscript, the prior licence would take precedence over a later copyright transfer agreement.

What if a publisher requests that the article is removed from the repository after publication?

The Office of Scholarly Communication will temporarily remove the article from public view while it investigates the basis for this request. We will work to ensure that any disputes are investigated and fairly resolved as quickly as practicable.

What should I do if my article includes third party copyright?

For articles with third-party copyright material, please clearly indicate within the manuscript the terms under which the material is released and state that the CC BY licence is not applicable to this material.

At what point in the publishing process should I include the rights retention declaration?

Please include the declaration at the point of submission and ensure it is not removed before publication.

Do I need to talk to my co-authors before opting in?

All authors will need to agree to the CC BY licence for each paper published. This should be agreed prior to submission and the rights retention wording included in the submitted manuscript.

Can I opt-in for all research outputs?

The pilot focuses on journal articles but we would be happy to support rights retention to other publication types (e.g. book chapters).

Do I have a choice of licence?

Yes, while the default declaration language refers to CC BY, you should feel free to choose the licence that best suits your requirements. Please bear in mind that many funders only consider CC BY to be conformant with their open access policies.

Do I have to add multiple Rights Retention statements if I am also funded by Wellcome, Gates, UKRI, etc?

No, please pick one of the standard Rights Retention Statements and check that it meets the requirements of all funders acknowledged on the paper.

What if I signed up to the pilot but forgot to put the statement in my covering letter/manuscript?

You should contact the journal office as soon as possible to let them know of your intentions to retain your copyright.