Author Frequently Asked Questions


Q: What is an "author's final version"?

The "author's final version" of a work is the last document that you send to the publisher, after the completion of the peer review process.

Even though this document—sometimes called a "final manuscript"—might be almost identical to the published version of the paper, your final manuscript is typically treated differently than the published version for purposes of licensing and author rights.

A final manuscript is not the same as a "page proof." You provide the publisher with your final manuscript. The publisher then provides you with a page proof for review just prior to publication.

It is likely that you have the right to freely and openly distribute many of your final manuscripts in DASH, making it easier for your colleagues to find, access, and cite your scholarly work.

Q: What version of a scholarly article should authors deposit in the repository?

The policies ask authors to deposit "the final version of the article". But since our policies were adopted, the more self-explanatory term "accepted author manuscript" has become more widely accepted for describing the version we have in mind.

The accepted author manuscript of a work is the version approved by peer review, or the last version the author sends to the publisher after peer review. It does not include unilateral edits made by the journal after peer review, or the journal's look and feel.

In a few cases we will deposit the published version, also called the version of record. For example, we will deposit this version when Harvard's HOPE fund pays an article processing charge for that article, or when the publisher gives permission to deposit that version. If you're not certain whether we could deposit the version of record in a given case, please contact the Office for Scholarly Communication.

Q: Why does OSC ask for a final manuscript even if the work is not covered by the policy?

In most cases, license agreements grant you more extensive rights to distribute the author's final version than they do to the published version.

Much of your work—anything authored before the date an Open Access Policy was passed in your school, for example—does not fall under the Open Access Policy.

In these cases, your right to distribute your work to others (including online) is limited by whatever agreement you reached with the publisher.

Thus, even when you are not allowed to distribute the published version, you may be able to make your final manuscript available for download in DASH without violating the license agreement. Let us investigate this for you and we'll make a recommendation.

Q: What is an author addendum?

An "author addendum" is a simple legal tool. The typical addendum is a short document, used to amend the agreement issued by a publisher. For more information on author addenda, visit the section of our site dedicated to amending your publishing agreement.

Q: How do I request a waiver of the Harvard license?

You may request a waiver of the license granted to Harvard on an article-by-article basis. Simply use the Waiver Generator.

Even if you obtain a waiver for a given article, you should still deposit the accepted author manuscript in DASH. It can be made available after a delay, or kept "dark" depending on the nature of your publication agreement. The OSC can help determine what kind of distribution is appropriate for the work.

If your article is subject to the NIH Public Access policy, note that your obligations under the NIH Public Access Policy cannot be waived. The same may be true of open-access policies at some other funding agencies. Look up your funder in the ROARMAP database for more information.

Q: Should I include my article in the Harvard repository even if I have gotten a waiver for it?

Yes. The repository accepts not only articles covered by the license granted to Harvard under the Open Access Policy, but also articles not covered by the license.

Even if you take a waiver, the publisher's agreement may provide, or you may be able to negotiate, sufficient rights to allow copies of your article to be made publicly available in the Harvard repository. The publisher may ask that certain conditions be met, some of which the repository can accommodate (for example, an embargo period during which the article will not be made publicly available). Information about publishers' standard policies on open access is available from the SHERPA/RoMEO project (though Harvard has not verified the accuracy of that information).

Further, even if your article cannot be made publicly available, you are encouraged to deposit a copy in the repository under the "metadata only" option, which stores a copy in the repository for archival purposes and provides bibliographic information that can be included in an online index of scholarly articles by Harvard members. The bibliographic information will be made available for broad harvesting and indexing by search engines, in order to increase awareness of your article. This will enable your article more readily to be found, even if a copy cannot be made available to others through the repository.

Q: What is a dark deposit?

A dark deposit is a work in DASH whose full text is "dark" (not OA), even when information about the work (citation, abstract, etc.) is OA.

We try to avoid or minimize dark deposits. That is, we try to make all DASH deposits OA. But we make deposits dark in two circumstances:

  1. When the author has requested an embargo, and
  2. When we don't have rights to provide OA to the version(s) available to us.

In the first case, we will make the work OA when the embargo expires.

In the second case, we might lack the relevant rights because the author has obtained a waiver, or the work was published before the author granted non-exclusive rights to Harvard through the OA policy at his/her school, or our rights only apply to a certain version and we don't yet have a copy of that version. Regardless of the cause, we will make a version of the work OA if or when we obtain the rights to do so.

In general, when a work is subject to a Harvard OA policy, we have non-exclusive rights to provide OA to the accepted author manuscript (AAM), and not the version of record (VOR). If the author submits the VOR to DASH, either we hold it or make it dark until we can obtain the AAM or until we obtain permission to distribute the VOR.

Q: What are the advantages for authors?

The Harvard open-access license:

  • Gives authors permission to make their work open access without the difficulty or uncertainty of negotiating with publishers;
  • Enables the university to help authors make their works open access;
  • Preserves author freedom to publish in the journals of their choice;
  • Preserves author freedom to decide for or against open access for each publication; and
  • Enhances author rights to reuse their work, and gives authors more rights over their own work than standard, or even progressive, publishing contracts.

The chief benefit of the open-access license is the way it fosters open access itself. While the benefits of open access itself are too numerous to list here, we will mention one. Research has repeatedly shown that articles that are free online are cited more often than articles that are not free online, and this trend is increasing over time. This phenomenon is often called the open-access citation or impact advantage.

Q: What will Harvard do with the articles covered by its license?

Here are some examples:

  • Availability in DASH. Harvard has set up an open-access repository called DASH to distribute the scholarly articles deposited by Harvard researchers.

  • Reuse by the author. When Harvard receives the grant of nonexclusive rights from faculty, it grants the same rights back to the faculty. The result is that faculty receive more rights from the OA policy, to use and reuse their own work, than they received under their publishing contracts.

  • Creation of derivative works. Harvard may use derivative work rights to include articles in a collection or database, to change document formats, to prepare abridgments, or to create other derivative works that we cannot currently foresee. Harvard will not authorize derivative works without the author's permission.

  • Non-commercial distribution. Through the transferability provision, Harvard may further allow others to distribute content in DASH, provided that the articles are not sold for profit. For instance, faculty at other institutions could be given permission to make copies for free distribution directly to their students.

  • Instructional purposes. The Harvard open-access license grants Harvard the right to license articles for free use in a course pack, so long as the course pack is not sold for profit. Alternatively, those seeking to include articles in a coursepack could continue to get permissions from the publisher, typically by paying royalties to the publisher. To take another example, Harvard could also authorize others to make articles available online (for example, on a course website or another repository), provided that these were not sold for a profit.

  • Harvesting, indexing, and other services. Consistent with the goals of open access and ensuring wide visibility and availability of scholarly articles, the license allows Harvard to enable both commercial and nonprofit entities to use the articles to provide search or other services, so long as the articles are not being sold for a profit. For instance, the license allows Harvard to enable the articles to be harvested and indexed by search services, such as Google Scholar, and to be used to provide other value-added services that don't involve selling the articles themselves for a profit. Harvard also could authorize use of the articles in a commercial service that provides information extracted from the articles (but not the full text itself), such as bibliographic data or citation lists.

  • Technological innovation. If new means of distributing or making the articles available evolve during the lengthy term of copyright, the license is intended to give Harvard the flexibility to use those means to advance the purposes of the open-access policy, provided always that the articles are not sold for a profit.

Q: What is the individual open-access license?

This a voluntary open-access license that any Harvard researchers may choose for their own scholarly articles. Because Harvard faculty are already covered by open-access licenses through the school-level open-access policies, in practice the individual open-access license is for non-faculty researchers, such as administrators, librarians, staff, postdocs, fellows, and students.

Through the school-level open-access policies, faculty grant Harvard certain nonexclusive rights to their future scholarly articles. These enable Harvard to make a certain version of those articles open access through DASH, Harvard's open-access repository. Moreover, they enable Harvard to grant the same rights back to the authors. The individual open-access license grants Harvard exactly the same set of nonexclusive rights, for exactly the same purposes. In that sense, it gives non-faculty researchers the same benefits that the school-level policies give faculty.

Just as faculty may obtain waivers from their open-access license, those who sign the individual open-access license may also obtain waivers.

Signing the individual license

The license works best when authors sign it before they sign publishing contracts. For that reason, and because it permits waivers for any given work, we encourage interested authors to sign the open-access license soon, or before they publish their next scholarly article.

Authors only need to sign the license once for the rest of their career at Harvard, not once per paper. It lasts as long as the author is affiliated with Harvard.


Q: Does the policy apply to co-authored papers?

Yes. Each joint author of an article holds copyright in the article and, individually, has the authority to grant Harvard a non-exclusive license. Joint authors are those who participate in the preparation of the article with the intention that their contributions be merged into inseparable or interdependent parts of the whole.

If you are one of multiple authors of your article, you should inform your co-authors about the nonexclusive license in the article that you have granted Harvard under the Open Access Policy. If they object to the license and cannot be convinced it is beneficial, you should direct that a waiver for the article be granted.

Q: Does the policy apply to articles I wrote before the policy was adopted?

No, it doesn't apply to any articles that were completed before the policy was adopted, nor to any articles for which you entered into an incompatible publishing agreement before the policy was adopted. The policy also does not apply to any articles you write after leaving Harvard.

Q: Should I take the license to Harvard into account if I am seeking permission from a third party to incorporate the third party's material (such as, for example, an image) in the published article?

Yes. If you conclude the third-party material cannot be incorporated in your article under fair use, and you therefore are seeking permission to use it, the permission should allow the material to be used as part of the article in all forms and media, including, without limitation, in publicly accessible electronic repositories.

Q: What if my article is also subject to the NIH Public Access Policy?

Your article will also be subject to the NIH Public Access Policy if it is peer reviewed and arose, in whole or in part, from NIH-funded research and is accepted for publication on or after April 7, 2008.

Unlike the Open Access Policy, the NIH policy is mandatory and cannot be waived. As part of the University's compliance strategy for the NIH policy, NIH-funded investigators will grant Harvard a limited, nonexclusive license to use the investigators' articles to comply with the NIH policy, and to authorize NIH to use the articles and make them publicly available in accordance with the NIH policy. This is separate from the license granted under the Open Access Policy. The license granted to Harvard under the Open Access Policy includes rights sufficient to comply with the NIH policy, but also provides other nonexclusive rights that will enable Harvard and faculty authors to use their articles in additional ways—for example, including them in a Harvard repository.

If an NIH-funded article is covered by the Open Access Policy, you therefore should use the addendum generator. However, if you or another faculty author have requested or plan to request a waiver of the Open Access Policy for the article, you should use the NIH addendum Harvard has developed, or another form of addendum that reserves, at minimum, the rights under copyright necessary to comply with the NIH Public Access Policy. Though you may elect to obtain a waiver of the Open Access Policy for an article, you must reserve rights sufficient to comply with the NIH policy when you enter into a publication agreement for the article. For more information on the NIH addendum and compliance with that policy, please see the Harvard web site dedicated to the NIH Public Access Policy.

No, this web site provides information and resources to help faculty members and others understand the Open Access Policy and to assist in compliance, but does not provide individual legal advice. The Office for Scholarly Communication and its staff also are not able to provide individual legal advice. If you wish legal advice about your copyrights or individual situation, you should consult your own attorney.


Q: Is the university taking the rights to my writing?

No. Faculty authors still retain ownership and complete control of the copyright in their writings, subject only to Harvard's prior, nonexclusive license. You can exercise your copyrights in any way you see fit, including transferring them to a publisher if you so desire. (However, if you do so, Harvard would still retain its license and the right to distribute the article from its repository. Also, if your article arises, in whole or in part, from NIH-funded research and was accepted for publication after April 7, 2008, you must retain sufficient rights to comply with NIH's Public Access Policy.)

Q: What if a journal publisher refuses to publish my article because of this prior license?

You have a number of options. One is to obtain a waiver of the license under the policy. Alternatively, you can work to persuade the publisher that it should accept Harvard's non-exclusive license in order to be able to publish your article, or seek a different publisher. You can consult with the Office for Scholarly Communication for help in the process of working with publishers and addressing their specific concerns.