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Open Access FAQ

How do I submit an article or invoke a waiver?

Simple instructions are here.

Does this policy pertain only to peer-reviewed articles?

The scope of the policy is “scholarly articles.” What constitutes a scholarly article is purposefully vague. Clearly falling within the scope of the term are (to use terminology 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 of this resolution 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).

We are not concerned that the term "scholarly articles" is not (and cannot be) precisely defined; an exact delineation of every case is neither possible nor necessary. If concerns arise that a particular article inappropriately falls within the purview of the policy, a waiver can always be obtained.

Will my request for a waiver be granted automatically?
Yes. Authors who request to opt out of the policy for a given article will automatically receive a waiver.

What is an author addendum?
An "author addendum" is a simple legal tool used to amend the agreement issued by a publisher. Publishers' agreements concerning publication of articles often contain provisions that are inconsistent with the prior license granted to Amherst College under the Open Access Policy. For instance, a publisher's agreement may specify that you transfer all rights under copyright in the article to the publisher and that you warrant that there are no prior licenses. The existence of the prior license to Amherst College means that this warranty is not true. If you sign the publication agreement without an appropriate amendment, you may be in breach of the publisher's agreement. To avoid a conflicting transfer of copyright to the publisher and to protect yourself from breach of contract, you have the option to use an addendum with a publisher's agreement, so that the agreement will take proper account of Amherst College's license, unless you are sure that the publisher's agreement is wholly consistent with Amherst College's license. Though other forms of addendum are available, Amherst College has adopted the SPARC Author Addendum, which is designed to deal with the prior license granted to the College. It also enables you to reserve or obtain some additional rights if you wish.

How do I use an author addendum?
The process is simple. You complete the addendum, sign and date the form, add a statement to the publisher's agreement making it subject to the addendum, and attach the addendum to the publisher's agreement when returning it to the publisher.

What if the journal publisher refuses to accept my addendum or wants to negotiate it?
In that case, assuming you still want to publish with that publisher, you would request a waiver and opt out of the institutional license for that article. Alternatively, you or the Library can work to persuade the publisher to accept Amherst College's non-exclusive license or you can seek a different publisher.

What if a publisher tells me I don't need the addendum because the publisher's agreement already permits immediate posting of the article in an institutional open-access repository?
If the publisher's agreement is consistent with Amherst College's license, you do not need to use the addendum.

Which version of my article or other material should I submit?
You may deposit any version of your article that you have the right to include in the repository. You may have the right to include some but not all versions. It is worth distinguishing various versions of an article:

Author's Draft: the version of the paper initially submitted to a journal publisher for consideration, or any earlier draft. (The SHERPA/RoMEO site refers to this as a "pre-print.")

Author's Final Version: the version of the paper accepted by the journal for publication, including all modifications from the publishing peer review process. (The SHERPA/RoMEO site refers to this as a "post-print.")

Published Version: the version of the paper distributed by the publisher to readers of the journal, incorporating any copy editing done by the publisher, showing the final page layout and formatting of the published version, and possibly including the publisher's logo.
Some journal publishers allow posting in an institutional repository of only one of these versions; others allow posting of more than one, or all, of these versions. Some publishers do not allow posting of any version. A summary of journal publishers' default policies is available on the SHERPA/RoMEO website. The Open Access Policy applies specifically to the author’s final peer-reviewed manuscript of the article. The Library will make the final Published Version of the article openly accessible when possible, when that is permitted by the publisher’s policy.

What should I do if my article has co-authors?
If you are one of multiple authors of your article, you should inform your co-authors about the nonexclusive license in the article that has been granted to Amherst College under the Open Access Policy. If they object to the license and cannot be convinced it is beneficial, you should opt out of the license.

Should I take the license to Amherst College 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 that third-party material cannot be incorporated in your article under fair use and you therefore seek permission to use it, that 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.

What if my article is also subject to the NIH Public Access Policy?
Your article will also be subject to the National Institute's of Health 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 7 April 2008. Unlike the Open Access Policy, the NIH policy is mandatory and cannot be waived.

May I request removal of my article from the repository?
Yes. Under the policy, you may request a waiver for the article and ask that it be removed. Such requests will be automatically granted. Simply inform the Library.

What happens if I leave Amherst?
Your work will remain available through Amherst's institutional repository, unless you choose to request a waiver and withdraw it. In any case, the license granted to Amherst is non-exclusive, which means that you can deposit your article in another institutional repository, assuming you have the rights to do so.

Does this web site provide legal advice to me?
This web site provides information and resources to help faculty members and others understand the Open Access Policy and to assist in compliance. It does not provide individual legal advice.

What if I have additional questions?
If you would like assistance reviewing an author's agreement or have additional questions, speak with your library liaison or contact Library Digital Programs.

Additional Questions About the Resolution

Select answers to additional questions point to information provided on the Open Access Scholarly Information Sourcebook’s section for researchers (OASIS).

Why endorse open access?
This resolution does not mandate open access. It simply changes the default from opt-in to opt-out. Faculty remain free to choose for or against open access. This resolution does not dictate behavior.

How many institutions have adopted resolutions similar to ours?
A full list is available at Some prominent institutions in the United States include Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Duke, Oberlin, and Wellesley.

Won’t the waiver make this resolution ineffective?
Roughly 5% of articles authored by faculty at Harvard and MIT prompt waiver requests.

How can I find out more information regarding author's concerns about open access?

What are the benefits of open access for research dissemination?

How does the non-exclusive license work from a legal perspective?
It relies on section 205(e) of the Copyright Act:

A nonexclusive license, whether recorded or not, prevails over a conflicting transfer of copyright ownership if the license is evidenced by a written instrument signed by the owner of the rights licensed or such owner's duly authorized agent, and if...the license was taken before execution of the transfer.

The resolution means that you grant to Amherst of a non-exclusive license with respect to your scholarly articles, including the Work, as set forth in the open access policy.

You may also wish to consult the Open access instructions for faculty, or read the Open access resolution.

Where do I find more information about Open Access?
See slides and video of Martin Eve's presentation, "Open Access and the Open Library of the Humanities."