Looking for an at-a-glance overview of the OA Policy that applies to you?

Non-Senate UC Employees: All Campuses

Academic Senate Faculty: UCSF

Academic Senate Faculty: All Other Campuses



Frequently Asked Questions

Expand All | Collapse All

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 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 new publication management system makes it even easier to add articles to eScholarship and participate in UC’s OA policies. Senate faculty were the first group to be covered by a UC OA policy and have already been added to this system. They will be contacted by email to verify their articles and upload a copy or provide an open access link to their publications. Other UC employees should deposit their articles directly in eScholarship, and will be added to the new system later. Authors at any campus 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 Read the Policies page.

Who’s covered by the policies?

With the issuance of the Presidential OA Policy, UC now has open access policies that cover everyone who authors scholarly articles while employed by UC. Policies covering Academic Senate faculty were adopted first; a new policy covering all other UC authors was issued October 23, 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. The effective dates for UC’s open access policies are listed below. Whether and how you can share articles online that predate your policy 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. Please note that the Presidential OA Policy (for non-Senate UC employees) includes additional requirements for waivers for UC authors who do not own the copyright in their scholarly articles.

What are waivers and embargoes?

A waiver enables an author to opt out of a UC OA policy completely for a particular article. (Waiver requests are rare and most 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 allows authors 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 publishing agreement on hand.

The Presidential OA Policy, issued in October 2015, recognizes that UC authors who do not own their copyright cannot independently waive the policy for particular publications, and states that they must show “compelling circumstances” before the University will grant them a waiver. Information about who to contact in order to demonstrate “compelling circumstances” is available from our page listing campus contacts for copyright questions.

Whether or not an author owns the copyright in a scholarly article is determined by UC’s 1992 Policy on Copyright Ownership. A summary of UC copyright ownership policies is available at the UC copyright site. If you still have questions about copyright ownership for articles written at UC, email us and we’ll forward your question to the Office of General Counsel.

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.

View a sample waiver letter: Senate policy | Presidential policy

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.

View a sample embargo letter: Senate policy | Presidential policy

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 Author-Archived Open Access and Publisher-Hosted Open Access pages.

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 (if you are Senate faculty) to verify your publication within UC’s new publication management system and provide a copy of your article or link to an open version of your publication for inclusion in eScholarship. This publication management system will eventually be rolled out to all UC employees. In the meantime, non-Senate UC employees should manually deposit articles directly in eScholarship.

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 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.

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

The UC open access policies require that UC faculty and other employees 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 will be contacted via email to verify and deposit their articles within UC’s new publication management system, which feeds information into eScholarship. Faculty can also log in to the system at any time by visiting http://oapolicy.universityofcalifornia.edu
  • All other UC authors should, for the time being, manually deposit articles in eScholarship. eScholarship has a streamlined submission process and will automatically populate article information if you provide a DOI or PMID. The publication management system (described above) will be available to all Senate faculty by the end of 2015, and to non-Senate UC employees starting in 2016.

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’re Senate faculty; otherwise use the deposit process on eScholarship. Social networking sites like Academia.edu 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 list of these publishers and you can check to see if yours 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, and only for authors relying on the UC-wide policies, not the UCSF policy. 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, work is planned in the near future to include open access repositories, including eScholarship, in link-resolving tools like UC-eLinks 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.

Looking for the old FAQs? We’ve archived them.