Check out an at-a-glance overview (PDF flowchart) of how to participate in the OA Policy for:

Additional information about the UC OA policies is available on the “What are my OA policy obligations?” and “UC OA policies: Background” pages.

Frequently Asked Questions

Expand All | Collapse All

Print (Expand before printing)

What are the terms of the UC Open Access Policies and what do I have to do?

The UC open access (OA) policies reserve rights for UC faculty and other employees to make their articles freely available to the public in an open access repository. They do this by automatically granting a non-exclusive copyright license to the University prior to  any later agreements authors may make with publishers. UC retains those rights regardless of what rights authors may subsequently transfer to publishers.The OA policies don’t say where UC authors should publish or require them to pay open access fees to publishers in order to comply.

For any article covered by the policies, authors should provide the author’s final version (see information about versions below) for inclusion in eScholarship, UC’s open access repository. UC’s publication management system makes it easy to add articles to eScholarship and participate in UC’s OA policies. Authors will be contacted by email to verify their articles and upload a copy or provide an open access link to their publications. Read more on the Deposit page. Alternatively, authors can choose to deposit their articles in another OA repository and provide a link to the open version of their publication.

If a publisher requires an author to opt out of a UC OA policy in order to publish an article or if an author independently wishes to opt out of a policy for a particular article, the author can use the waiver and embargo page or read the question below about waivers and embargoes. The full text of the policies is available from the UC OA policies background page.

Who’s covered by the policies?

Since the issuance of the Presidential OA Policy, UC has open access policies that cover everyone who authors scholarly articles while employed by UC. Policies covering Academic Senate faculty were adopted first, in 2013; a later policy covering all other UC authors was issued in 2015. If you aren’t sure which policy applies to you, see our list of who’s covered by which policy.

Do the UC OA policies cover every article I’ve ever written?

No, they only cover scholarly articles for which a publication agreement was signed after the policy that applies to you was adopted or issued. They also only cover articles you wrote while employed at UC. The effective dates for UC’s open access policies are listed below. Whether and how you can share articles online that predate your policy or your UC employment depends on the terms of the original publishing agreements you signed.

Presidential OA Policy covering all non-Senate UC employees, regardless of campus October 23, 2015
UC-wide Academic Senate OA Policy July 24, 2013
UCSF Academic Senate OA Policy May 21, 2012

If you aren’t sure which policy applies to you, see our list of who’s covered by which policy.

When it’s time to sign your publishing agreement…

Go ahead and sign, even if your publisher requires that you transfer copyright. If you haven’t been asked for a waiver or embargo letter, you don’t need one.  If your publisher or editor explicitly requests that you produce a proof of waiver (opt out) or embargo (delay access to your article) because of your “institutional open access policy” you can generate a letter on the waiver and embargo page.  You can also use the waiver and embargo page to opt out for other reasons.

What are waivers and embargoes?

A waiver enables an author to opt out of a UC OA policy for a particular article. (Waiver requests are rare and typically originate with publishers who object to the terms of UC’s OA policies.) The author’s rights are then limited to what is allowed by the publication agreement that was signed with the publisher. Often the agreement still allow the author to post a version of the article in their institutional repository. You can look up your publisher’s standard terms on SHERPA/RoMEO if you do not have your publishing agreement on hand.

If your publisher or editor has asked you for a waiver, you can get create a letter for them with the waiver, embargo, and addendum form. You can also see sample letters on that page.

UCSF Senate faculty and and non-Senate UC authors are required to deposit the author’s final version of their manuscript even in cases of waiver. The UC-wide Senate policy does not require deposit when the license for an article is waived.

An embargo delays public access to an article in eScholarship (UC’s open access repository) until a predetermined time period has elapsed after the article’s publication. The author chooses to retain the rights reserved by the relevant UC OA policy, but agrees not to exercise those rights until the embargo period has passed.

Does my publisher know that UC has open access policies?

Most publishers are aware of UC’s policies, even if editors of individual journals are not. UC contacted nearly two hundred publishers to let them know about the Senate policy in 2013, and also contacted many publishers after the UCSF policy was adopted in 2012. Institutional open access policies are covered in news sources like the Chronicle of Higher Education and tracked by sites like ROARMAP. Publishers who have objected to UC’s policies have been actively requiring authors to opt out. You can find information about the publishers contacted and the number of  waiver requests by UC authors on the Publisher Communications page.

My publisher charges $____ for open access. Do I have to pay that to comply with UC’s OA policies?

No. The publisher charges those fees to fund open access publication of your article at the journal’s website, but there are two ways to make scholarship open: through publisher-hosted OA (which sometimes involves fees) and through self-archiving by an author. UC’s OA policies use the latter route, by reserving rights for authors to include the author’s version of their articles in an open access repository like eScholarship. There is no fee associated with this self-archiving function. Authors may choose to pursue paid, publisher-hosted OA for their own reasons, but that is not required or suggested by the UC OA policies. You can read more about the two different approaches to open access on the “What is Open Access?” guide.

My publisher’s policy says _____________, which is different from UC’s OA policies.

Publishers’ policies will not, by default, represent the terms of institutional open access policies. You should read, and keep, any agreement you sign. In particular, you may want to look out for rare contract terms asking you to affirm that you have obtained a waiver of any institutional open access policy, or that you have not previously licensed any rights in your article to anyone besides your publisher. At the same time, understand that the UC OA policies are intended to preempt or augment publishers’ default terms, granting UC – and by extension you – rights to share your article beyond what is allowed in a standard publication agreement. This is true whether the publisher requires a copyright transfer or not. If your publisher isn’t requiring you to opt out by getting a waiver, you are fully within your rights to take advantage of UC’s policies.

My publisher didn’t require me to get a waiver or embargo (delayed access) for my article. Now what?

Go through the article publication process as you normally would. When the article is published, you will be contacted via email to verify your publication within UC’s publication management system and provide a copy of your article or link to an open version of your publication for inclusion in eScholarship. Not all UC employees have been added to the publication management system yet. Employees who do not yet have access to the publication management system should manually deposit articles directly in eScholarship. Read more on the Deposit page.

Do I have to get permission from my co-authors to comply with a UC OA policy?

No. Under US copyright law, any joint author can give nonexclusive permission to copy and distribute the work. Best practices would include treating open access policy participation like other co-authorship issues – determining author order, reporting contributions, etc. – and, hence, discussing the issue among co-authors as part of the writing and publication process.

What kinds of writings are covered?

The Senate and Presidential OA policies apply to “scholarly articles.” This phrase refers to published research articles in the broadest sense of the term, but not to monographs or to dissertations and theses. Authors are best situated to understand what writings fit the category of “scholarly articles” within their discipline. All such articles should be deposited in eScholarship.

UC also has a Policy on Open Access for Theses and Dissertations. Unlike the scholarly article-based open access policies discussed above, participation in this policy is handled campus-by-campus. Find links to campus graduate division guidance on the Open Access Theses and Dissertations page, and contact your campus graduate division if you have questions.

What’s the easiest way to comply with the deposit requirement of the policies?

The UC open access policies require that UC authors provide a copy of their scholarly articles or a link to an open version of their articles for inclusion in eScholarship (UC’s open access repository and publishing platform).

  • Senate faculty and some other authors will be contacted via email to verify and deposit their articles within UC’s publication management system, which feeds information into eScholarship. Users can also log in to the system at any time by visiting
  • Authors who have not yet been added to the publication management system should manually deposit articles in eScholarship. eScholarship has a streamlined submission process and will automatically populate article information if you provide a DOI or PMID.

What if my article is already openly available?

The policies requires articles to be made available in an open access repository. If your article is available for free at the publisher’s website, or you’ve added it to a repository like PubMed Central or SSRN, just give us the link. Use the publication management system if you have access to it; otherwise use the deposit process on eScholarship. Social networking sites like and ResearchGate are not repositories and do not provide the same sorts of services, such as supporting open metadata and providing long-term preservation, so depositing your article there does not fulfill the terms of the policies. You can read more about the difference between social networking sites and open access repositories here.

How do I know if I’m depositing the right version?

Use the latest version you have that hasn’t been formatted by the publisher. If you used Microsoft Word to write the article, it will probably be a Word doc. If the version you’re looking at has the look and feel of the journal and the publisher’s copyright notice on it, it’s probably the wrong version.

If you no longer have your author’s final version, you may be able to retrieve a copy from the review system used by the journal in which it was published. A non-profit group has created a guide explaining how to download the author’s final version (referred to in the guide as an AAM) of an article from some of the most commonly used journal systems. You can access the guide from the Open Access Button site.

The UC OA policies name the author’s final version as the version of choice for deposit, but some publishers are comfortable with (or even prefer) authors posting the publisher-formatted PDF. SHERPA/RoMEO maintains a  database of journal policies on self archiving, and you can look up a journal title there to see if your journal is one of them.

Do the UC OA policies allow commercial use of faculty articles by eScholarship end users?

Only if the author depositing the article chooses to allow commercial reuse at the time of deposit. The default for all deposited articles is the default under copyright law – all rights reserved, with exceptions for things like fair use and classroom display. Authors may alternatively choose to grant eScholarship users additional reuse permissions by choosing a Creative Commons license for their article at the time of deposit.

How will people find my article once it’s openly available?

Most people find their way to articles in repositories via general internet searches or using tools like Google Scholar. Open access repositories like eScholarship include information about each item in a standardized way that is easily crawled and understood by search engines. This increases the likelihood the articles will not only be found by searches, but will also turn up higher in search results. Additionally, readers are directed to articles in open access repositories, including eScholarship, by link-resolving tools like Get it at UC and its equivalent at other institutions.

Can UC authors make their work open access if it has copyrighted images in it?

In some cases yes, and in some cases no. It depends on whether you had to sign an agreement to get access to the image you used. If you didn’t, because the image is in the public domain or your use of it was fair use, then the work can be made publicly accessible with the image included. If you did sign an agreement, review the agreement to see if it allows broad use of the image as long as it is in the context of the article. If the terms of the agreement would not permit public access to the image in the context of the article, you have a few options:

  • Contact the other party to the agreement to get permission;
  • Get a different copy of the image from a different source with better terms, or depending on your discipline, see if there is a different image that will meet your needs;
  • Deposit a version of the article that does not include the images so that readers can still read your argument/analysis; readers unfamiliar with the images who want to fully understand your arguments will need to get the version of record through other channels;
  • Opt out of the policy for that article by visiting the waiver and addendum page.

Have more questions? Send us an email.