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Scholarly Publishing: Open Access at GW

A guide to scholarly publishing and scholarly communication activities at Himmelfarb Library.

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Open Access at GW

On February 13, 2015, GW’s Faculty Senate approved an open access policy for the university to ensure that published scholarship becomes more widely accessible. The policy supports GW's commitment to promoting innovative research that makes a positive impact on society. The policy does not require GW faculty to publish in open access journals which charge authors to publish. GW authors should continue to publish wherever they normally would.

However, GW authors are encouraged to ask publishers for permission to make articles available in the GW institutional repository which is "open access" in the sense that anyone can visit it. This process is sometimes called self-archiving. To check on a journal’s policy regarding copyright and self-archiving, go to the SHERPA/RoMEO database. This database provides current information on self-archiving policies for an extensive set of journals. If your journal publisher does not permit self-archiving, you may opt out of the GW policy by sending an e-mail containing the link to the journal’s policy in SHERPA/RoMEO to If your publisher permits self-archiving it can permit it in one of the following formats:

  1. Publisher permits archiving right away upon publication of the final PDF version of the type-set manuscript as it appears in the journal (this is usually the case in Open Access Journals): this is the version to include in the GW repository
  2. Publisher does not permit archiving of the final PDF version as described in 1 but allows archiving of the refereed final accepted version of the manuscript before type-setting: this is the version to include in the GW repository
  3. Publisher permits archiving of the final PDF version as described in 1 but after a certain period of embargo: this is the version to include in the GW repository after the embargo period has passed


You can initiate a discussion on self archiving with your publisher by using the SPARC Author Addendum to Publication Agreement. Many publishers will say yes but with provisos such as "not until 6 months after publication" or "use the final typewritten manuscript approved by the editor and include a link to the publisher website." Others will just say no. Any of these options is okay. We will work with you to meet any publisher provisos. Again simply send the publisher response to

You will have complied with GW’s open access policy if:

  • You have requested a waiver to opt-out of the policy due to policies outlined in the SHERPA/RoMEO database or due to publisher refusal to self archive. (Send an e-mail to
  • You deposit a copy of your article in GW’s institutional repository with your publisher’s permission and in the format specified by the publisher. Faculty in the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Milken Institute School of Public Health, and School of Nursing can submit articles directly to the Health Sciences Research Commons.
  • You have already deposited your article in a domain-specific repository like PubMed Central or arXiv. (Please provide the link for inclusion in GW’s institutional repository.)
  • You have published an article in an open access journal. (Please provide the link for inclusion in GW’s institutional repository.)

Should you have questions about this policy, please feel free to contact Sara Hoover at

For information about public access policies related to federal grants, see our guide to Open access to publicly funded journal articles and research data.

Open Access Support at GW

BMJ Case Reports

BMJ Case Reports accepts cases in a wide range of clinical and non-clinical specialties, so there are opportunities for students, staff, and faculty in medicine, nursing, and public health. A full list of BMJ Case Reports' specialties can be viewed on their Browse by Topic page.

BMJ Case Reports makes it easy to submit cases by providing templates for full cases, "Images in" cases, and global health cases. These templates can be accessed, along with additional guidelines for writing, on the Instructions for Authors page.


GW Institutional Fellowship: 

Himmelfarb Health Sciences Library pays for an institutional fellowship with BMJ Case Reports, which allows GW faculty, staff, and students to publish case reports without having to pay individual fellowship fees. If you are a GW faculty member, staff member, or student and wish to submit a case to BMJ Case Reports, please contact Ruth Bueter, Serials & Systems Librarian ( to receive the GW fellowship code.


Information for Non-GW Affiliates:

Non-GW affiliates are encouraged to contact their institutions to learn if their institution pays for an institutional fellowship with BMJ Case Reports. Alternatively, authors may also purchase an individual fellowship with BMJ Case Reports. Individual fellowships allow authors to submit as many cases as they wish during their 12-month fellowship period free of charge.