Policy UL-AD30 Open Access

Main Policy Content


The Faculty of the Penn State University Libraries is committed to disseminating the fruits of its research and scholarship as widely as possible.

Members of the Library Faculty Organization pledge to make his or her own research freely available whenever possible by seeking publishers that either publish contents online without restriction, and/or allow authors to self-archive their publications using institutional and/or personal websites.

In keeping with that commitment, members of the Library Faculty Organization adopt the following policy:

Each University Libraries Faculty member grants to Penn State University permission to make available his or her scholarly articles and to exercise the copyright in those articles. More specifically, each faculty member grants to Penn State University a nonexclusive, irrevocable, worldwide license to exercise any and all rights under copyright relating to each of his or her scholarly articles, in any medium, provided that the articles are not sold for a profit, and to authorize others to do the same.

  • The policy applies to all scholarly articles authored or co-authored while the person is a member of the faculty except for any articles completed before the adoption of this policy and any articles for which the faculty member entered in to an incompatible licensing or assignment agreement before the adoption of this policy. The Dean of the University Libraries & Scholarly Communication or the dean’s designate will waive application of the license for a particular article or delay access for a specific period of time upon express direction by a Faculty member, and there will be no penalty for any faculty member who chooses not to make a particular work freely available to the public in a digital format.
  • Unless a temporary or permanent waiver is declared, each faculty member should provide an electronic copy of the author’s final version of each article as soon as possible (preferably no later than 60 days after publication) at no charge in an appropriate format to be deposited in an open access repository of the scholar’s choosing. An example would be ScholarSphere, Penn State’s open access repository.
  • A designate of the Dean of the University Libraries & Scholarly Communication will be responsible for interpreting this policy, resolving disputes concerning its interpretation and application, and recommending changes to the Faculty from time to time. The policy will be reviewed after two years and a report presented to the Faculty.


Academic Freedom & Open Access - Under other open access policies in the US adopted by faculty, including the one above, faculty may continue to publish wherever they choose. No one else can make this decision about where to publish - only the author. In most cases, a work may be made available through green or gold open access. When this is not possible, or not desired, an author may opt out and a waiver may be obtained.

Author Fees / Article Processing Charges (APC) - Some gold open access journals require a payment from the author to cover publishing costs. In return, the publisher makes the article available for free on their website. This policy takes no position on whether authors should or should not pay author fees or author publication charges requested by publishers. This decision remains with the author as has always been the case.

Author Rights / Copyright - Under this policy the author would be sharing (not giving away) copyright with the University, through a nonexclusive license, so that the author’s work could be distributed electronically in a repository like ScholarSphere. Under this policy, an author maintains all copyright ownership and remains free to transfer partial or full rights to another entity (e.g. a publisher) as has always been the case.

Author’s Final Version - The final version of an article submitted by the author to the publisher after all revisions have been completed. This is not the publisher’s final version, which is often a PDF file, typeset, edited, and formatted in a certain style. Many publisher agreements allow authors to post the author’s final version (but not the publisher’s final version) in an open access repository.

Background on Open Access & LFO - See http://www.libraries.psu.edu/psul/pubcur/LFOandOA.html

Co-Authors - Any joint author can give nonexclusive permission to copy and distribute the work, so authors can rely on the policy to post their articles in a repository without checking with their co-authors. However, 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.

Gold Open Access - This is achieved through open access journals that make content freely available online. Some may charge an author fee or article processing charge, but many do not. One example of a gold open access journal that does not charge author fees is College & Research Libraries.

Green Open Access - This is achieved by publishing in a closed access (subscription-based) journal, but then making a copy of the author’s final version available in a repository, like ScholarSphere. Many publisher agreements (including those from Elsevier, Wiley & Taylor & Francis) may allow authors to post the author’s final version in an open access repository. Green open access involves no author fees or article processing charges. See an example of green open access.

Implementation in University Libraries

The Research Informatics and Publishing department along with the University Libraries Copyright Officer will help library faculty adhere to the policy by:

  • Facilitating a process that enables and encourages self-deposit in ScholarSphere by the author
  • Developing required metadata strings that authors could employ, and
  • Providing educational support to authors including information on all aspects of open access publishing and on successfully understanding and negotiating publisher contracts.

Irrevocable - For a discussion of the use of this term.

It is noted that "The transfer of this right is 'irrevocable' to preclude you or the publisher from arbitrarily changing the terms (by, for example, claiming a licensing fee)."

License - “A license granted by the holder of a patent or a copyright on literary or artistic work gives the license holder a limited right to reproduce, sell, or distribute the work” (West’s Encyc. Of Am. Law, 2005).

Nonexclusive - “a nonexclusive license gives someone the right to exercise one or more of a copyright owner’s rights, but does not prevent the copyright owner from giving others permission to exercise the same right or rights at the same time. A nonexclusive license is not a transfer of ownership; it’s a form of sharing…such licenses are often called permissions” (The Copyright Handbook, Nolo, 2011).

Other Open Access Policies in the US

Publisher’s Final Version - Final or official version provided by a publisher. Often a PDF file, typeset, edited, and formatted in a certain style. Explicit permission is often needed to post this version in an open access repository.

Repository - An online collection of documents that are generally made publicly available, often for free. Examples include arXiv, PubMed Central, ScholarSphere, SSRN, and others.

Role of the Dean & Waiver Process - The Dean of the University Libraries & Scholarly Communication will not make any decisions about where authors should publish or when a waiver will be granted. The policy says “will waive” not “may waive”. The waiver is at the sole discretion of the author.

Scholarly Articles - From the Model Open Access Policy provided by Harvard: “What constitutes a scholarly article is purposefully left vague. Clearly falling within the scope of the term are (using terms from the Budapest Open Access Initiative) articles that describe the fruits of scholars’ research and that they give to the world for the sake of inquiry and knowledge without expectation of payment. Such articles are typically presented in peer-reviewed scholarly journals and conference proceedings. Clearly falling outside of the scope are a wide variety of other scholarly writings such as books and commissioned articles, as well as popular writings, fiction and poetry, and pedagogical materials (lecture notes, lecture videos, case studies).”  For a fuller explanation, see the explanatory notes.

Waiver Process / Waiver Form - If, for any reason an author does not want their work distributed by the university, a waiver may be obtained. We would use a process similar to what is in place at other universities.

See examples from:

"As permitted by the policy adopted by the school indicated below, under which I have granted Harvard a license with respect to my scholarly articles, I hereby request a waiver of the policy for the following article:" Harvard also includes this sentence in the letter granting the waiver: "This waiver may not be revoked by Harvard, and Harvard will have no license under the policy unless you choose to relinquish the waiver."

University of California.

Will a journal publisher refuse to publish my article because of the Open Access Policy? - 

This policy is not, in any way, intended to limit our venues of publication. The policy requests that an open access copy of our work be made available only after it has been accepted for publication. If any difficulty arises between library faculty and the publisher due to the policy, we have the option of obtaining a waiver which will temporarily or permanently nullify the policy as it applies to that article. Staff in the University Libraries are available to support the policy and to supply guidance.

Effective Date: February 11, 2015

Date Approved: February 11, 2015 (Library Faculty Organization)

Revision History (and effective dates):

  • Revised 9/15/15 (Library Faculty Organization)