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Self-Archiving Policy Guidance

The University's Self-Archiving Policy came into effect on April 1st 2023. The policy applies to all peer-reviewed research articles submitted after April 1st 2023, including reviews and conference papers, that are accepted for final publication in either a journal, conference proceeding or publishing platform. The policy allows authors to make their accepted research articles available in Apollo immediately upon publication. It is based on the researcher retaining their rights to apply a Creative Commons licence to the accepted version of the manuscript ('rights retention').

How do I comply with the policy?

Before submission:

  • Ensure that your co-authors agree to apply a CC BY licence to the accepted manuscript. Alternative licences are permitted providing they are in line with funder requirements.
  • It is advisable to include the following sentence in your article's financial disclosure or acknowledgements section: “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”. This ensures that the publisher is aware of your intention to retain the right to distribute the accepted manuscript.

On acceptance:

  • Deposit your article into the repository through Symplectic Elements.
  • Inform us of any preference for an alternative Creative Commons licence using the options provided.

How do I opt out?

You can email us of your intention to opt out of the policy by emailing When depositing papers into the repository through Symplectic Elements, it is your responsibility to inform us that you are opting out by using fields provided in the form.


Why is an opt-out policy required?

The opt-out policy provides significant advantages over the opt-in approach that has been taken for the Rights Retention Pilot:

  • It enables maximum funder and REF compliance with minimum burden for researchers and professional services.
  • It provides a safety net if the researcher is unaware of open access requirements or publishes with a journal that is removed from a read and publish agreement before the final version has been published.
  • It preserves researcher autonomy to opt out of the policy entirely, or for individual papers, or to assign a different licence to their work.
  • It does not require that the rights retention statement is included in the submitted manuscript, providing that the publisher has already been notified of the University policy (though it is still advisable for researchers to include the statement to ensure that co-authors are aware that the open licence has been applied and to notify the ‘long tail’ of publishers that publish smaller numbers of papers by Cambridge authors and are harder to identify).

Do I have a choice of licence?

Yes, while the default policy refers to CC BY, it also includes provision for the researcher to select an alternative licence instead. If the licence you desire is not listed in Symplectic Elements, please request the desired licence in the text box provided. You should feel free to choose the licence that best suits your requirements, provided that is in line with REF and funder requirements.

How does this policy affect co-authorship with researchers at other institutions?

All authors will need to agree to the licence you select for each paper published. The route to open access should be agreed between co-authors prior to submission and, where required, the rights retention wording included in the submitted manuscript.

What if a publisher refuses to publish my manuscript?

While a publisher is under no obligation to consider a manuscript that is subject to rights retention, 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 prudent to include the rights retention declaration in the manuscript from the point of submission. We know of only two publishers so far refusing to publish articles where authors are using rights retention and we expect this position will be unsustainable as more institutions implement rights retention policies.

What if a publisher of a subscription (hybrid) journal 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 of an open access journal asks for an article-processing charge?

The library has funds to cover article-processing charge payment for open access journals subject to eligibility criteria. See more on this webpage.

How will I know if a publisher has been notified of the new policy?

We have notified 164 publishers of the new policy, which accounts for almost 99% of all articles published with a Cambridge corresponding author. You can access the list of publishers we have contacted here: [Cambridge users only].

If the journal you are submitting to is a subscription (i.e., non-open access) journal and it does not appear in this list, please email the Office of Scholarly Communication who will notify the publisher for you. Alternatively, you can do this yourself by including the rights retention declaration (above) in your manuscript. 

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

This policy supersedes any downstream licence that a publisher may try to impose. Researchers will be fully supported by the University to achieve open access under the terms of this policy.

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

Decisions to remove articles from Apollo will adhere to the Notice and Takedown policy

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 (or opt out as neccessary). It is the researcher's responsibility to ensure that all third-party copyright material is correctly licensed.