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Self-Archiving 101

An introduction to terms used throughout the publication process and different types of open access

Self-archiving involves the act of making a version of a manuscript (submitted, accepted, or published—depending on publisher policies) available on a personal or institutional website for free access to those interested.

Self-archiving is only one form of research dissemination, but has the potential to substantially improve your research impact. Research on this topic has shown that having free versions of your research available can greatly increase the number of citations (Lawrence, 2001)

But journal policies vary on where, when, and which version of your manuscript you can legally share for free. Read on to learn more. 

Shades of open access

Did you know you can make your article open access without paying a fee to the publisher? 
Sharing your postprint is also a way to make it open access!



open access



open access

Your article is green open access if you have taken the time to self-archive your manuscript at any stage of the publication process on an institutional repository, laboratory website, or a personal website. 

Sharing your paper (per journal policies) can be a legal way to disseminate the peer-reviewed version of your article without having to pay a fee to make it accessible.

Your article is gold open access if you paid a fee to the publisher to make the published version open access. This fee can be up to $2-10K!

While this method can increase the accessibility of your article, it is not affordable for many scientists.

Consider the things we could do with grant monies if we didn't have to use it to pay for gold open access!

Diamond Open Access: Your article is diamond open access if you published your article in a journal that did not charge processing fees AND made the published version open access. Though this is an exemplar for open-science, it requires systemic change among journals and publishers.

Black Open Access: Your article is black open access when it is shared online (e.g., via Sci-Hub) but does not have reuse/open-access rights from the publisher.

Versions of your manuscript 

throughout the publication process


Once you've finished writing up a study into an article, you submit it for publication to a journal. This submitted version of your manuscript is called a preprint

Preprints are usually the version of the document that has line numbers, double spacing, and is not yet peer reviewed. 

Many journals allow authors to post this version of manuscripts to a preprint server. Check out more on preprint servers here

Postprints (accepted version)

After your article has been peer-reviewed and your final edits are approved by the editor, your article is then accepted for publication (congratulations!).

This accepted version of your article is called a postprint. Postprints are the final version of your manuscript that haven't yet received the fancy journal formatting treatment seen in the publisher version of your PDF. 

Most journals allow you to self-archive postprints in a university repository, lab website, or personal website, which means you can legally share this version of your peer-reviewed article!

Published version

Once your paper has been accepted, publishers apply special formatting to your manuscript for readability and accessibility. This version of your article is called the published version, publisher PDF, or sometimes called an offprint.

The published version of your article typically has strict restrictions on how and where you can share it so some authors pay to make this version gold open access to increase its accessibility.

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