Policy FAQ


Open access refers to the free availability of journal articles on the public internet, permitting any user to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful, non-commercial purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself.

This policy resets the default from a closed, toll-access system of scholarly communication to one in which scholarship can be more freely shared amongst academics, researchers, and the public. Under this policy, you retain the rights to your intellectual property and have complete freedom to publish wherever you want or need to; the policy simply makes it possible, without further complicated negotiations with the hundreds of possible publishers, to make a peer-reviewed copy of your scholarship available in DigiNole, FSU’s open access research repository.

The policy would increase the impact of FSU research by making it more widely available. Studies show a very large citation advantage for open access articles, ranging from 45% to over 500%, but restrictive publisher business models limit wide sharing through onerous terms in contracts with university libraries and individual authors. For example, some publishers prohibit authors from posting their work openly on the Web, and publishers commonly ‘rent’ access to their content, putting access at risk following cancellation of subscriptions. Performing systematic searching, advanced indexing, or analysis are prohibited in virtually all contracts.

The policy would give FSU a means of establishing terms more beneficial to FSU faculty and researchers everywhere, an effort needed in a context of dramatic inflation and market consolidation: the 5 largest journal publishers now account for over half of total market revenues, and over the past 15 years, the price of scholarly journals has grown roughly three times as fast as the Consumer Price Index.

The Web makes it possible for faculty to share their articles widely, openly, and freely; in addition, research has repeatedly shown that articles available freely online are more often cited and have greater impact than those not freely available. While many faculty already make their writings available on their web pages, some are prevented from doing so by perceived or actual limits set on such sharing in their publisher copyright transfer agreements. This policy will allow you to legally make your writings openly accessible, and it will enable FSU to help you do so.

No. There are similar policies in place at Harvard University, MIT, Duke, Kansas, Georgia Tech, the University of California system, and at least 50 other US institutions. See a list of universities in the US that have policies and a complete worldwide list of various kinds of open access policies.

Research funders are increasingly supporting such efforts as well. The National Institutes of Health have required open access for funded research articles since 2008, and a wave of other US agencies have followed suit. (See public access mandates.)

FSU already has the technical infrastructure in place to store the articles, in the form of the open access research repository DigiNole. In addition, the FSU Libraries have experience supporting access to faculty research such as technical reports and working papers, and for the past several years have maintained an Office of Scholarly Communication to assist faculty who wish to retain rights in their published works. Once an implementation plan is developed, it will be possible to assess what other staff or technical support might be needed, if any, and to reassess priorities in light of those needs.


You do, unless or until you assign those rights to someone else, typically your publisher, in a written contract (Copyright Transfer Agreement AKA Publishing Agreement). The effect of the policy is to grant FSU a license to share a specific version of your scholarship for non-commercial purposes. In order to grant this license, you must be the copyright owner; the policy fundamentally depends on the fact that you own the rights to your work at the time of the grant of license, otherwise it would have no standing. You can’t give away things you don’t own.

No. This policy grants specific nonexclusive permissions to FSU. You still retain ownership and complete control of the copyright in your writings, subject only to this prior permission. 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, FSU would still retain its license and the right to distribute the article from its repository.

In this way, the policy acts as a safe harbor for your rights, protecting them in spite of any subsequent agreement that transfers them to a publisher, and effectively giving you the ability to regain your rights upon request to FSU even after entering into such an agreement.

For recipients of grant funding, the policy will greatly simplify the process of complying with public access mandates, ensuring that you will have the right to make accepted versions of your articles available within the period specified by your funding agency.

Granting a license to FSU means that faculty agree to make available to representatives of the libraries a prepublication copy of their manuscript, as it was accepted for publication. Such will be made openly accessible in DigiNole, FSU’s open access research repository. “Make available” means that upon acceptance for publication, you or someone designated by you (e.g., a graduate assistant or departmental worker) will deposit the work in DigiNole, or email it to lib-support@fsu.edu to be deposited by members of the Office of Digital Research & Scholarship in FSU Libraries. OR, that you will share such work upon request.

NOTE: A waiver from the policy exists to protect the academic freedom of authors who wish not to participate. See “Waiver/Embargo” section for more information on waivers.

The legal framework for copyright is that you can’t give away what you don’t have. FSU will have been granted non-exclusive rights, and will not be able in turn to grant exclusive rights. FSU, however, will be able to exercise all of the other rights under copyright, including reproducing, displaying, distributing, and making derivative works of articles covered by the policy, as long as these activities are not done for profit.

FSU will continue to operate its open-access repository, DigiNole, to make available the scholarly articles provided under the policy. This repository has FSU standing behind it to ensure its availability, longevity, and functionality, to the extent technologically feasible. The repository is backed up, mirrored, and made open to harvesting by search services such as Google Scholar, Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Adjustments will be made to the deposit processes, under the guidance of the Faculty Senate Library Committee and Office of the Provost, to make it as convenient as possible. FSU may further allow others to distribute the content, 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. However, FSU does not have– and cannot grant to others –the right to sell the articles for a profit or to sell a book containing the articles for a profit.

This would never happen, since you always have the option to waive the license. Alternately, you can try asking the publisher to accept FSU’s non-exclusive license in order to be able to publish your article. You may also wish to consult with the Scholarly Communications Librarian (dsoper@fsu.edu) for support with reviewing publication contracts and providing suggested language for publisher negotiations.

FSU’s license would still have force, because it would have been granted (through this policy) prior to the signing of the publisher contract. If the publisher expresses concern that cannot be remedied, you have several options. You could:

  • Consult with the Scholarly Communication Librarian: dsoper@fsu.edu
  • Consult with the Office of General Counsel; or
  • Opt out for a given article.

This policy would grant FSU the right to license others to distribute the work, so long as the work was not sold for a profit. For example, FSU could give permission for an article to be used in a course pack (including giving such permission to you if you have otherwise transferred copyright), so long as the course pack was not sold for profit. No one would be able to sell your articles for profit without getting permission from the appropriate rights holder, whether that were you or a publisher to whom you have assigned copyright or licensed such rights to.The policy applies to “scholarly articles.” Using terms from the Budapest Open Access Initiative, scholarly articles are articles that describe the fruits of research and that authors 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.

Many written products are not encompassed under this specific notion of scholarly articles, such as long-form scholarship (books and monographs), popular articles, commissioned articles, fiction and poetry, encyclopedia entries, ephemeral writings, lecture notes, lecture videos, or other copyrighted works. The Open Access Policy does not address or otherwise impact these kinds of works, although faculty are welcome to deposit them in FSU’s institutional research repository. The Open Access Policy focuses exclusively on scholarly articles due to the particular conventions of copyright transfer that pertain in academic journal publishing.


The policy applies to “scholarly articles.” Using terms from the Budapest Open Access Initiative, scholarly articles are articles that describe the fruits of research and that authors 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.

Many written products are not encompassed under this specific notion of scholarly articles, such as long-form scholarship (books and monographs), popular articles, commissioned articles, fiction and poetry, encyclopedia entries, ephemeral writings, lecture notes, lecture videos, or other copyrighted works. The Open Access Policy does not address or otherwise impact these kinds of works, although faculty are welcome to deposit them in FSU’s institutional research repository. The Open Access Policy focuses exclusively on scholarly articles due to the particular conventions of copyright transfer that pertain in academic journal publishing.

Yes. Each joint author of an article holds copyright in the article and, individually, has the authority to grant FSU a non-exclusive license, regardless of “corresponding author” status. 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. Should your co-author be at another institution with a similar policy there is no conflict between the licenses.

No. The policy is not retroactive. It applies only to articles completed and accepted for publication after adoption of the policy by the Faculty Senate. Just as the policy doesn’t apply to articles published before its adoption, nor does it apply to any articles you write after leaving FSU.

Images are created by faculty in such a wide range of contexts and for such a wide range of purposes that it was too complex to include images in the policy. To the extent that images are contained in the articles, however, they would be covered by the policy.

The policy applies only to faculty because in a faculty policy it seemed clearest to focus on faculty work. FSU already receives a license to Ph.D. dissertations; in addition, many student articles will be co-authored by faculty and will be subject to this policy.

The author’s final version of the article; that is, the author’s accepted manuscript with any changes made as a result of the peer-review process, but prior to publisher’s copy-editing or formatting.

Versions are a source of confusion. The reality is that an idea undergoes a long process of evolution from the time you fix it in tangible form (the moment copyright exists) to its final publication, and there aren’t necessarily clean lines along which distinctions can be made. Nonetheless, the publishing industry, for better or worse, generally recognizes three versions of a paper: the submitted manuscript, the accepted manuscript, and the final published version.

  • the submitted manuscript: AKA pre-print; the version you submitted to a journal for peer review
  • the accepted manuscript: AKA post-print AKA author’s accepted manuscript (AAM); the peer-reviewed version as it was accepted by the journal/publisher, including changes made as a result of peer review. The accepted manuscript should be more or less identical to the final published version except for final copy editing and formatting from the publisher (pagination, application of journal logo, two column arrangement, etc). Usually this is still a Word file. This is the version deposited under the policy.
  • the final published version: AKA final publisher’s PDF AKA version of record; this is the official article as it appears on the journal webpage and in subscription databases; the version to which the official citation of the article refers.

Note: there is only one copyright to all of the above versions, not a copyright for each version. Different rules may be applied to the different versions through licensing agreements, but the copyright applies to the entirety of the work.

In some cases, the final publisher’s PDF may be deposited in DigiNole, as in the case of papers published in open access venues or for which open access was purchased for the article, OR if allowed by the publishing agreement, OR if allowed by an agreement modified by an Author’s Addendum allowing such posting. Most often, however, the final publisher’s PDF may not be posted on the open Web. Publishers retain the right to allow, or not, such posting to help protect their investment in the publication of your article by recouping costs through subscriptions and tolls. Posting the author’s accepted manuscript increases the visibility of the article, and provides access to researchers who might lack institutional access. Note that even the most well-funded institutions in the world still can’t afford access to everything.

With or without this policy, the academic community will need to work on the problem of version control in digital scholarship. There are technical and standard-based solutions that will address this problem. Some of those examining this issue include an international working group of scholars, scholarly societies, and publishers and the AAAS, among others. Nomenclature and modeling efforts have been begun by the National Information Standards Organization and the Version Identification Framework. These efforts will be closely monitored.


To opt out, fill out a simple web form, or send an email or other written notice to lib-support@fsu.edu informing FSU of the following:

  • Name of FSU author
  • Title of article (expected or working title)
  • Journal you expect to publish in
  • Reason you are opting out (for informational use only; no waivers will be denied)

100% of waivers will be granted without question or need of justification. This is built into open access policies everywhere to eliminate academic freedom concerns as well as provide a safety valve for authors with recalcitrant publishers. The waiver serves as a means of informing us that you’re invoking it. Note: the waiver only affects the application of the license, not the obligation to “make available”. See below “Should I add the article even if I have a waiver?”

Yes. There are several reasons to do so. Most publishers now allow the author’s accepted manuscript to be made available on some timeline, usually after an embargo of 12-18 months. Even in cases where publishers require or demand waivers, we may still pursue open access for your scholarship according to the standing policies of the publisher. If we have the document we may do so for you without chasing you around campus and bothering you with emails. In most such cases, the article can be deposited into DigiNole with the publisher’s embargo built in, so that it will become available automatically upon the expiration of the embargo. In the meantime, the metadata for, but not the full-text of, the article will be available to search engines and will increase the discoverability and impact of your work.

Yes. Embargoes of 6, 12, and 18 months are possible, per current norms in the publishing industry. The deposit will be made upon receipt, with the full-text not becoming available until the expiration of the embargo. This process is automated, such that no further action is necessary to make the article available at the appropriate time. Like waivers, 100% of faculty author embargo requests will be honored. The policy is agnostic as to why you institute an embargo, either to accommodate with wishes of your publisher or for your own reasons.


We wish for compliance to be as easy as possible so that you can continue doing the research and teaching that you really care about. Industrious authors who want to take ownership of the process can self-submit, which takes about 10 minutes the first time and less once you’ve done it a few times. The easiest way to comply is to send the author’s accepted manuscript via email to lib-support@fsu.edu with a citation, at the time of acceptance. That’s it.

How: If you wish to self-submit your paper, instructions are available at https://www.lib.fsu.edu/drs/repository/submit; or we can provide one-on-one training/consultations upon request. If Office of Digital Research & Scholarship staff are making the deposit, you need only send the document via email as outlined above.

When: the text of the policy specifies "at time of acceptance or no later than the date of its publication"; we think it will be most convenient and expeditious to take action when you receive the acceptance from the journal. Waiting only increases the time required to comply, as you move on to other projects and that email drifts to the bottom of your inbox.

Per the text of the policy: "The Office of the Provost 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 three years and a report presented to the Faculty Senate."


No. The opt out option protects authors who need to publish in journals that will not cooperate with the policy. This policy has no effect on the venue you choose for publication. You may continue to submit to and publish in the journals of your choice, which we hope are of the highest quality, whether open access or not. As such, at this time the policy would have zero effect on the Tenure and Promotion process.

This policy is meant to support open access to scholarly literature, however it is achieved. While we encourage faculty to explore open access publication options in their disciplines, we have no wish to, and would not support any effort to, limit the options for publication to any specific sub-category of journals, even if we think those sorts of journals are beneficial to the scholarly communication environment. Open institutional repositories like DigiNole, alongside Open Access Policies and progressive publisher policies, support open accessibility to scholarship published in more traditional (toll access) venues. There are services through the Office of Digital Research & Scholarship that do support OA journals, including an Open Access Publishing Fund and advising services on reputable open publishers.

The policy has no direct bearing on pay to publish model publishers. The Open Access Publishing Fund is available to authors who need assistance with article processing charges (APCs; conditions apply). This fund is meant to support fully open journals, as opposed to hybrid journals which are subscription based but which offer open access publication for a fee. Under the policy, there is little reason to pay such hybrid fees, as the effect of the policy is to make your accepted manuscript available without paying them. If you prefer to publish in a hybrid journal and pay the open access fee, you may certainly do so, but know that typically libraries receive no discount to such journals based on these fees. Some have called this practice “double-dipping” because the publisher gets paid twice, once from subscriptions and again for APCs. There have also been cases where journals accepted such payments but authors later found that their papers were still behind the paywall

No. The policy has no impact on the peer-review process. You will continue to conduct your research and submit to the excellent journals of your choice. They will still apply their (hopefully rigorous) peer-review process, and either reject, accept, or advise resubmission as before. Nothing in this process has changed. Upon acceptance, after peer review is complete, you will submit the peer-reviewed manuscript, with any edits and changes made as a result of that process, for deposit into DigiNole. We believe that a strong peer review system is fundamental to the success of the academy and all its members: publishers, journals, societies, universities, departments, faculties, researchers, and practitioners.

There is no empirical evidence that even when all articles are freely available, journals are canceled. The major societies in physics have not seen any impact on their publishing programs despite the fact that for more than 10 years, an open access repository (arXiv) has been making available nearly all of the High Energy Physics literature written during that period. If there is downward pressure on journal prices over time, publishers with the most inflated prices – which tend to be the commercial publishers – will feel the effects sooner. Journals will still be needed for their value-added services, such as peer review logistics, copyediting, typesetting, and maintaining web sites.

A "public access mandate" is a formal policy adopted by a funding agency that requires funded research projects to make the products of the research (publications and data) accessible to anyone with an internet connection. Whereas a public access mandate applies only to the products of research linked to a particular funding source, the university-wide open access policy applies to all faculty scholarship produced at FSU regardless of the funding source. As a result of a policy memorandum issued by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), federal agencies have begun releasing new policies containing public access mandates. A university-wide open access policy will simplify the university’s obligation to comply with these mandates.

The NIH Public Access Policy applies only to NIH funded research – about 1/3 of FSU’s funded research dollars. It requires authors to deposit their peer-reviewed articles in the open access repository PubMedCentral where they must be accessible within 12 months of publication. A particular article could be subject to both this policy and the NIH Public Access Policy, if it is peer reviewed and arose, in whole or in part, from NIH-funded research. If an NIH-funded article is covered by this open access policy, the author would use the FSU amendment to publication agreements to cover NIH’s obligations and accommodate the FSU policy. Even if the author decides to opt out of the policy for an article, the author must reserve rights sufficient to comply with the NIH policy when entering into a publication agreement for the article.

More information about public access mandates, including a list of research funders currently requiring compliance with public access mandates, can be found on the Libraries’ Public Access Mandates FAQ page.