Prior to publication, authors hold all rights to their scholarly publications. Upon acceptance, many publishers ask authors to transfer these rights to them, which restricts what authors can do with their research findings, including making articles open access. For this reason, cOAlition S has developed the Rights Retention Strategy (RRS), which helps authors remain compliant with their funders’ open access requirements.
Funders such as NWO and European Commission (Horizon Europe) require immediate open access with a CC BY license to all peer-reviewed scholarly publications. To meet those requirements, researchers have four options:
- Publish with a journal that is part of one of the national Read & Publish agreements and where the publication costs have already been accounted for,
- Publish with a diamond open access journal or platform, which does not require the payment of publication costs.
- Publish with a journal or platform which requires the payment of an APC (“Article Processing Charge”) for the open access availability and use the grant budget to pay for these publication costs.
- Use the RRS to retain the right to immediately publish the Author Accepted Manuscript (the “AAM”, the final version without journal-markup) or, possibly, the Version of Record  (VoR, the final published version with journal-markup) open access with a CC BY license on the EUR Research Portal.
The aim of the RRS is to enable researchers to retain sufficient intellectual ownership rights on their work. By using this strategy, authors will be able to deposit the AAM (or, possibly, the VoR) in the institutional repository, with a CC BY license and no embargo, so they can share it among colleagues and use it in their own teaching. Researchers who wish to make use of the RRS must give prior notice to the publisher about their obligations to the funder.
What researchers need to do
1. Upon submission of the manuscript, include one of the following texts in the submission letter, on the first page or in the acknowledgements:
For NWO grants: “This research was funded in whole, or in part, by the Dutch Research Council (NWO) <project number>. For the purpose of open access, a CC BY public copyright license will be applied to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission.”
For EU (Horizon Europe) grants: “This work was funded by the European Union under the Horizon Europe grant <grant number>. As set out in the Grant Agreement, beneficiaries must ensure that at the latest at the time of publication, open access is provided via a trusted repository to the published version or the final peer-reviewed manuscript accepted for publication under the latest available version of the Creative Commons Attribution International Public License (CC BY) or a license with equivalent rights. CC BY-NC, CC BY-ND, CC BY-NC-ND or equivalent licenses could be applied to long-text formats.”
If your research is not funded by NWO, the European Commission or another cOAlition S member, you may still decide to use the RRS and add the following statement to your submission: "For the purpose of open access, a CC BY public copyright license will be applied to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission.
2. Publishers may or may not indicate that they agree with this requirement. Either way, it might be necessary to negotiate and amend the terms of their standard agreement or add an addendum to it. Whenever you are presented with an agreement by the publisher, for example a Copyright Transfer Agreement or a License to Publish, read it critically to check for terms that may conflict with the open access conditions of your grant agreement. Don’t sign anything that, later on, causes you to choose between breaching your funding grant agreement or the publisher’s terms. If the agreement, as provided by the publisher, is not acceptable to you, either negotiate amendments, ask for a waiver, or find a different journal which allows you to publish open access.
3. Upon acceptance, add the CC BY license to the AAM by including the text "CC BY 4.0" and/or the CC BY logo, and deposit the AAM in the Pure Repository. When registering your work in Pure, make sure to add the CC BY license to the record registration as well, or contact the EUR Library Open Access and Publication Support Team if you need help doing so.
Also have a look at the templates provided by cOAlition S for other ways on how to communicate with your publisher about the RRS.
Challenges and difficulties
While many publishers understand, and some embrace, the transition towards full and immediate open access, some publishers may be reluctant to allow authors to retain parts of their copyright. Explaining that immediate open access is a condition of your research funding institution may help alter their perception.
Publishers may come with several different responses if they do not wish to give you the right to publish the AAM (or the VoR) under an open access license. Examples are:
- Rerouting your submission to a full open access journal. A publisher might offer to publish your submission in a different, full open access journal available in their catalogue. This will fulfill the requirement of your research funding institution and will ensure that the article will be immediately available open access. However, this means publishing in a different journal than you intended, with possible extra costs, and you must decide for yourself whether this is acceptable to you.
- Asking you to pay the Article Processing Charge (APC) for your submission. A publisher might offer to publish the article open access on the condition that you, as the author, pay the APC. You might be able to finance this from your research budget or other sources. If you do not have this budget or are not able to finance this cost otherwise, do not accept this condition. This means that you might need to find a different journal in which to publish your article.
- Offering you a contract that breaches your research funding institution’s agreement. As mentioned before, you should not agree to any contract that will make you breach your grant agreement.
- Desk rejecting your submission due to your open access requirements. In this case, seek a different journal to publish with.
If you encounter such practices, please contact the EUR Library Open Access and Publication Support Team for advice. You are fully within your rights to retain your copyright and you do not have to agree to the publisher’s demands.
Journal Checker Tool
The Journal Checker Tool is a web-based tool funded by cOAlition S which allows you to easily find ways to publish your research article that are compliant with Plan S. Simply enter the name of the journal of your choice, your funder and your institution to see whether this combination is Plan S compliant and which publication options are available to you.
More information on how the Journal Checker Tool works can be found here.
The EUR Library Open Access and Publication Support Team is available to answer questions you may have regarding publishing, publishing open access and the RRS.
Should you need any help, please feel free to contact us via: firstname.lastname@example.org
 Instead of the Author Accepted Manuscript, authors might also choose to indicate the Version of Record in their submission letter. However, while it would be preferable to have the final published version available open access, it might be easier and more feasible to have publishers accept the RRS on the Author Accepted Manuscript.