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What is Self-archiving?

Final draft

Self-archiving is a strategy used by authors to make their scholarly works available on the open web -- to provide open access by posting their Author's Manuscript. In this context, the contents are usually journal articles, conference or technical reports, theses and dissertations, or data sets.
A scholarly work is self-archived if the author's manuscript is posted to a personal or professional website, deposited in an institutional repository, or contributed by the author to a disciplinary archive such as the Social Science Research Network (SSRN), arXiv, or PubMed Central.
Depending on the terms in the publishing contract, these forms of self-archiving may or may not be permitted; authors are often not aware that they may have signed an agreement prohibiting these forms of distribution. Some authors agreements permit certain forms of self-archiving, but not others: for example, they may permit a pre-peer reviewed copy to be made available, but prohibit distribution of the final, publishers PDF. Sometimes they impose an embargo period.
SHERPA/RoMEO project houses a database of publisher and journal policies that will aid authors seeking to understand their journal's self-archiving policies.


What is Author’s Manuscript?

There are two formats of Author's Manuscript: Pre-print and Post-print.

Author manuscript


An author's own version of an article before it has undergone peer review and traditional publication.


An author's own version of an article incorporating all the changes and suggestions required by peer reviewers and editors, but not the publisher's own copy-edited and formatted version. Many publishers allow the self-archiving of the post-print version of an article, but not the publisher's "official" formatted version. These are also often referred to as "Author's Accepted Manuscripts".

Author's manuscript characteristics:

  • Identical content as the Publisher's Version
  • No formatting
  • No design
  • CAN be uploaded to institutional repository/personal website (subjected to publisher's copyright policy)

The publisher's version is the formal published version.

Published version

Publisher's version

Publisher's "official" formatted version, includes publisher's value-added contributions such as copy-editing, formatting, technical enhancements and pagination. The publisher's version is the formal version that could be accessed and downloaded from publisher's website.

Publisher's version characteristics:

  • publisher's formatting
  • publisher's logo
  • publisher's fonts and font sizes
  • CANNOT be uploaded to institutional repository/personal website (due to copyright restriction)

Where to Self-Archive

  • Subject Repositories
    Some authors deposit working or final versions of their papers in disciplinary or subject repositories, where it may be more readily found by researchers with similar interests. E.g. arXiv, Social Science Research Network (SSRN), and PhilPapers.
    See Open Access Directory wiki for more subject repository information.
  • Personal Websites
    Many authors have professional web pages that describe their research interests and recent publications. Authors often wish to make electronic copies of these publications available for direct download. Lingnan University offers the integrated Research Information Management System (RIMS) - Lingnan Scholars to all academic staff. Click HERE to learn more about the service.
  • Institutional Repository
    At Lingnan, it refers to Digital Commons @ Lingnan, a digital repository service of the Library to collect and preserve the scholarship and creative works of our community and to share our intellectual life with a global audience. Click HERE to learn more about our service.


Publisher Copyright and Self-Archiving policy

The following table illustrated main publishers' self-archiving policy on journal content in institutional repository:

Publisher Pre-print Post-print Publisher's version
Cambridge Yes need embargo No
Elsevier Yes need embargo No
Emerald Yes Yes No
Oxford Yes need embargo No
Sage Yes Yes No
Springer Yes need embargo No
Taylor & Francis Yes need embargo No
Wiley Yes need embargo No

Individual journal under listed publishers may have separate policies. You are advised to refer to the official journal website for most accurate and updated details. To know more about Self-Archiving Policy of other publishers / specific journals, perform a Search in SHERPA RoMEO, a database of publisher policies on open access and copyright issues




To know more about Self-Archiving Policy of other publishers / specific journals, perform a Search in SHERPA RoMEO, a database of publisher policies on open access and copyright issues:

SHERPA/RoMEO uses Color Classification to help authors determine permissions.

RoMEO Colour Archiving policy
Green Can archive pre-print and post-print or publisher's version/PDF
Blue Can archive post-print (ie final draft post-refereeing) or publisher's version/PDF
Yellow Can archive pre-print (ie pre-refereeing)
White Archiving not formally supported

Authors who wish to publish a copy of their articles will want to look for journals classified as green or blue, then check on any additional restrictions.