Frequently Asked Questions


Copy Protection

Golden Road to Open Access: an expensive solution 

Green Road to Open Access: a good idea and better for the budget 

Technical and legal issues


Q: What is Open Access publishing?

A: Publishing in Open Access simply means offering unrestricted online access to your writings. In essence: if you publish your work in Open Acces, anyone with an internet connection anywhere in the world will be able to read what you have written.

Copy Protection

Q: If everyone has access to my writings, will every reader then also be able to make a copy of it?

A: Yes, that will be the case by default, as with any digital document. However, this simply means that users are allowed to store a copy of your writings on their own computer so they can read it at their convenience, which seems basically the whole point of publishing.

For further information about copyright and answers to more specific questions you are referred to the Copyright Information Point.

Q: Does the fact that everyone can read and easily copy what I have written, affect my rights as an author?

A: No it does not. First of all, you should realize that printed material can also be copied quite easily, but the difference between photocopying a printed text and copying an electronic file is a gradual difference, not one of principle.

The same restrictions to the re-use of your material still apply. No one can claim your work as his own, and no one is allowed to alter its content and redistribute it without your explicit permission, no matter what the technical possibilities are.

Golden Road to Open Access: an expensive solution

Q: If Open Access means that a publication is available without payment to anyone with an internet connection, what then does “paid Open Access” mean?

A: 'Paid Open Access', 'Author’s Choice', 'Open Choice', or any of the other variations of this phrase, refer to the principle that 'the author pays for Open Access', meaning that the author – or rather the institution that employs or subsidizes the author – bears the cost of publishing an article.

A university, for example, would pay the so-called 'article processing costs' to a publisher, and in exchange the publisher offers the article to all readers free of charge.
At the moment (2010) these 'article processing costs' are often somewhere between 1,000 and 3,000 US $, but they can be both significantly higher or lower.

See also this explanation of the general principles (in Dutch) of Tilburg University.
Here you’ll find a list of publishers with a paid Open Access scheme, and a survey of their article processing costs.

Q: As an author I am the owner of the copyright of an article, so why would I - or my employer – pay for the right to publish my own article in Open Access?

A: Indeed: you are the owner of the copyright. Your article is your intellectual property and you are the sole owner of the right to exploit it, scholarly and/or commercially.

However, universities continue to use established scholarly journals, produced by established scholarly publishers as their preferred infrastructure for making their product – excusez le mot – available to researchers and interested laymen. This infrastructure – organizing and administering the peer review process, providing for long term storage, maintaining distribution channels, creating retrieval possibilities, etcetera – obviously comes at a price.

Authors transferred their copyright – or rather their exploitation rights - to publishers as a matter of course, in exchange for the use of the publisher’s infrastructure. And while the internet created infinite additional possibilities to publish research, established publishing houses remain the channel of choice. Many researchers are under the impression that you can only get your work published if you either transfer your copyright or your money to a publisher.

Q: Why do established publishers and journals continue to be by far the most frequently used channels for scholarly publications?

A: Well, first of all because in all likelihood many researchers are satisfied with their services, and maybe also because only few researchers are fully aware of what university libraries pay for those services.
Furthermore, major publishers have developed many additional services over the past ten to fifteen years. They are creating a high level of interdependency between the journals they publish by weaving complex webs of hyperlinks between individual articles.
And, very importantly, they gather and provide information about a journal’s impact factor and an author’s H-index. The increasing demand for the 'measurability' of the value of academic research needs to be fed with information that is at present only available at a few large academic publishers.

See also: the explanation in Wikipedia of Impact factor and H-index.

Green Road to Open Access: a good idea and better for the budget

Q: Is it possible to publish in Open Access without paying 'article processing costs'?

A: Certainly. With 'paid Open Access' the author buys the right to publish an exact copy of the final version of an article, i.e. the PDF file, exactly as it appears on the journal’s own website, including the official pagination. However, around 80% of all publishers allow authors to post their own manuscript on their personal webpage and deposit a copy in the repository of the institution that employs them. This self-archiving of the manuscript version of an article is exactly what the new policy of the Erasmus University is aiming for.

Q: Paid Open Access and publishing a manuscript version ... are those the only Open Access options?

A: Certainly not. On you will find a survey of almost 6,000 Open access journals. Many of those journals charge neither the author for publishing nor the reader for access so they may be called full Open Access.

Q: What are the Golden Road and Green Road to Open Access?

A: The Golden or Gold Road is the equivalent of paid Open Access. The Green Road is the equivalent of self-archiving of the author’s manuscript version.

Q: Why did the Erasmus University choose to follow the Green Road?

A: Because it is a good idea and also because of the costs involved in paid Open Access. At the moment the university’s Institutional Repository, RePub, contains almost 2,500 articles published by Elsevier, Springer, Wiley-Blackwell and Oxford University Press, four of the largest academic publishers.

All of these offer a paid Open Access option and they all charge between 2,000 and 3,000 US $ per article. Even if we cannot simply multiply the number of articles with the article processing costs, it is quite clear that following the Golden Road for every article in an international journal will cost the university a very substantial sum.

Since paying for Open Access means that the university merely buys the right to make its own research results freely available, it will still have to continue to pay for every one of its present subscriptions to guarantee its staff and students access to all journals and databases they need for their research.

In other words the costs of paid Open Access will initially have to be added to the university’s existing budget for electronic journal subscriptions. Making your manuscript available in accordance with your publisher’s rules is free, except for the costs of creating and maintaining a repository.

Technical and legal issues

Q: What is an Institutional Repository and what is RePub?

A: Wikipedia adequately defines an Institutional Repository as an online locus for collecting, preserving, and disseminating -- in digital form -- the intellectual output of an institution. RePub simply is that locus for the Erasmus university and the Erasmus Medical Centre.

Q: Is it mandatory at EUR and EMC to deposit a copy of my articles in RePub?

A: Yes, it is. The Erasmus university is the first Dutch university that has made it mandatory to deposit a digital copy of an article in RePub. From the first of January 2011, you are required to send a copy of your articles to RePub.

Q: I've transferred my copyright to the publisher of the journal. Can I still submit my article to RePub?

A: Yes, you can. RePub staff will check what your publisher allows you to do with your article and will act accordingly. In most cases the posting of the Accepted Manuscript is allowed by the publisher. In some cases you will only be allowed to deposit the Submitted Manuscript.

Some publishers, on the other hand, do not allow you to publish your manuscript but demand that you deposit the final published version of the article, i.e. the Version of Record. Additional conditions, such as an embargo period, may apply. As a general rule RePub will not do anything that your publisher does not allow.

Q: Am I obliged to transfer my copyright to the publisher?

A: No, certainly not. There is no legal obligation to transfer your rights to a publisher. Obviously a publisher may refuse to publish your article unless you transfer your exploitation rights, but in actual practice this is an uncommon step.

Evidently it may take some effort to persuade a publisher that you are serious about your rights, and you need to be clear about your own priorities too, but legally your exploitation rights are yours to keep or give away.

Q: Could I transfer only a part of my rights to a publisher?

A: Sure. That is an option you may consider too. You could, for example, reserve the right to deposit a copy of your article in the institutional repository of your university. You could also propose to wait a certain period, e.g. 6 months, after the publication date before you make the deposit. You could even write your own non-exclusive licence and suggest to your publisher to use that instead of his Copyright Transfer form.
SURF’s 'Copyright Toolbox' website contains a ready-made licence which you can download and use for this purpose.

Q: Pre-print, post-print, author’s version, draft before peer review, final author’s manuscript, publisher’s PDF … could you please make up your mind about the terminology?

A: There is indeed quite some confusion about the terms used to indicate the various stages of an article. At RePub we distinguish three versions, in conformity with the terminology proposed by Sally Morris’ in her PRC report about journal authors’ rights:

1. Submitted Manuscript: the manuscript of your article as you originally sent it to the journal. Obviously this was not a manuscript but a text file of some sort, probably an MS Word file or perhaps your own PDF file.

2. Accepted Manuscript: the text of your article as it was accepted for publication by the journal’s editorial staff. The difference between Accepted and Submitted Manuscript can vary, obviously, depending on the type and the number of suggestions you received from the journal’s editor and the opinion of your peers.

3. Version of Record: the article as published in the journal. It has become common practice to put this version online even before the final volume and issue number and pagination have been established.

Q: Which version of my article should I submit to RePub?

A: Your Accepted Manuscript.

Evidently, if you actually published your article in Open Access, we would prefer the Version of Record. If you happen to have published an article with a publisher who does not allow you to post your Accepted Manuscript, please send us the Submitted version, if possible.

Q: Which version of my article will RePub put on the internet?

A: It depends. If you have published your article in an Open Access journal or have refused to transfer your copyright, we would like to post the Version of Record.

But if you have accepted your publisher’s conditions, then those will determine what we can do. In some 80% of the cases the publisher will allow you to post a manuscript version of your article, most of the time the Accepted Manuscript version.
If there is an embargo period for the Accepted Manuscript, we shall wait until the end of that period. If your publisher only allows the posting of the manuscript in the state it was before it was reviewed, then that is what we shall post – if you have kept it.
If the publisher allows the posting of the Version of Record, then evidently that is what we shall put on the internet. We shall always try to complement your manuscript version with the Version of Record.

However, this we can only show on the open internet in some 15% of the cases. In all other cases access to the Version of Record will be restricted to the EUR/EMC intranet, so it will only be accessible to staff and students with access to the university’s own network.

Q: Do I transfer (any part of) my copyright to RePub, the Library or the University when I deposit my article?

A: No, you don’t. It remains up to you whatever else you do with the publication. You only grant a one time permission to the university to put one copy of your work on the internet.

Q: I am ready to submit my publication to RePub, but how does that work?

A: Fairly simple. Dependent on whether your faculty uses Personal Metis, you have either two or three options:

Option 1: use the 'Upload button' in Personal Metis which you will find at the bottom edge of the Metis data entry window. If you use this option, a relevant selection of the information you have entered in Metis will be transferred to RePub where it will end up, together with the copy of the file you have uploaded, in the so-called “Submission queue” of RePub.

The RePub staff will check your data, make it consistent with other data already present in RePub, and supplement it with information RePub derives from other sources, such as PubMed or Scopus.

Option 2: Use RePub’s Submission form. First go here - - to find out if your publication should not be entered in RePub via another route, for example because it is part of an official series.

If that is not the case, you can fill in the Submission form -  - and upload the appropriate file(s).

Option 3: Send your publication as an attachment to an email. Also add a short bibliographic description of the article to the email or put that in the body of the mail. The description should mention the following:

  • Name(s) of all author(s): Initials, First name, Last name;
  • Title of the article;
  • Title of the journal;
  • Year of publication, (Month), Volume number, (issue number), pages (whatever is possible of these data);
  • DOI, if possible.