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Open access to publicly funded journal articles & research data: How to retain your copyright

Scroll down the page to view a summary of Department/Agency open access plans

For authors

Copyright is a series of rights an author has over your journal articles which may be given away in writing, in whole or in part, to reproduce, to distribute, to make derivatives, to publicly display, or to deposit in any personal, institutional, or open access, digital repository or archive. When you decide to publish in a journal typically an author signs a publishing agreement that hands over to the publisher all of these rights.  You should read the publication agreement carefully or check the publisher's website advice page for authors to check for wording that permits you to archive your work.

While the NIH Public Access Policy applies only to NIH funded research, from February 23, 2015, all GW Faculty should comply with the University's GW Faculty Open Access Policy adopted by the faculty senate. There are several ways to comply:

  1.    You can deposit a copy of the full text of your journal articles in a GW library repository such as the Himmelfarb Library's Health Sciences Research Commons.
  2.     If you have complied with the NIH Public Access Policy and already deposited your article in PubMed Central, you may provide a citation and link in Himmelfarb Library's Health Sciences Research Commons.
  3.     If you have published an article in an open access journal, you may provide a citation and link in a GW library repository
  4.     You may also request a waiver and opt-out of the policy.

GW authors can retain their copyright permissions using either the GW waiver or the SPARC addendum.  The reason for this is so you can comply with either institutional or funder mandates such as the GW Open Access Policy or the NIH Public Access Policy.  In general the University recommends faculty authors not assign exclusive copyright with publishers, but there may be excepotions where publishers permit noncommercial reuse whereby they agree to deposit the peer-reviewed pre-print version of the article of NIH funded papers into PubMed Central, usually you the authors must indicate your study was funded by the NIH on the publication agreement, or where the publisher permits you to deposit a PDF of the pre-print version of your articles on a public server such as a GW library repository.  If you decide for an article you need to opt out of the GW Open Access Policy so you can legally sign a publisher exclusive copyright waiver, you should notify the GW Libraries Scholarly Communications Team giving your reasons by email to

If you are planning to publish your article in an NIH Public Access Policy compliant "Method A" journal the publisher will submit the final published version of an article on your behalf to PubMed Central so you need take no further action. For journals not on the Method A list, find out who your publisher is by checking the SHERPA/ROMEO directory for the journal title, and check the alternative deposit method publisher list to establish whether they will submit the paper to the NIHMS for a fee (Method B), or not at all (Method C), or whether they have an agreement with the NIH to submit the paper to the NIHMS upon request (Method D).

If you are planning to publish in a journal that is owned by a Method B or Method C publisher, it would be good practice for you to negotiate with the publisher upfront to retain your copyright.  You can find out the name of the publisher of a journal by checking the SHERPA/ROMEO directory for the journal title. We recommend you print, sign, and attach either the GW waiver or the SPARC addendum to your publication agreement.  If your goal is simply to secure the right to deposit your article in PubMed Central to comply with the NIH Public Access Policy, the NIH suggest you insert the following wording into the publisher’s agreement that you sign:

“Journal acknowledges that Author retains the right to provide a copy of the final manuscript to NIH, upon acceptance for Journal publication or thereafter, for public archiving in PubMed Central as soon as possible after publication by Journal.”


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