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Copyright on Campus: Author Rights

Information and resource guide for those interested in how copyright affects teaching, learning, research, and scholarly publishing.

An Explanation of Manuscript Versions

Publishers often make distinctions between three primary versions of a manuscript when detailing the archive or deposit rights retained by authors: the pre-print, the post-print and the publishers version.

Pre-print – A pre-print is the original version of the manuscript as it is submitted to a journal. While the authors may have sought help from their colleagues in selecting data analysis techniques, improving manuscript clarity, and correcting grammar, the pre-print has not been through a process of peer review. It typically looks like a term paper – a double spaced .doc file with minimal formatting.

Post-print – A post-print is a document that has been through the peer review process and incorporated reviewers comments. It is the final version of the paper before it is sent off the the journal for publication. It may be missing a final copyedit (if the journal still does that) and won’t be formatted to look like the journal. It still looks like the double spaced .doc file. Sometimes, the term “pre-print” is used interchangeably with “post-print,” but when it comes to permissions issues, it is important to clarify which version of a manuscript is being discussed.

Publishers version/PDF – This is the version of record that is published on the publishers website. It will look quite spiffy, having been professionally typeset by the publisher. Library databases will link to this version of the paper.

Generally speaking, publishers are more likely to be okay with authors posting copies of pre-print versus other manuscript versions. But each journal is different, and authors need to be aware of what they can do. The copyright transfer agreement is the best place to find this information.




Author Rights Policy

UF Author Rights: Protecting faculty rights to share scholarly articles

Effective April 1, 2022, the UF Author Rights Policy ensures faculty keep rights to share the peer-reviewed, accepted manuscript version of their journal articles in any noncommercial repository. Learn more about the policy.

What Rights Do You Have in Your Work?

When publishing your work, you will usually be presented with a copyright transfer agreement drafted by the publisher. Many of these publisher drafted agreements transfer copyright fully to the publisher thereby restricting an author's subsequent usage of his or her published work, including reuse of the work in teaching and further research. After transferring copyright to the publisher, the author generally has little say in how the work is later used. The result, all too often, is that such agreements restrict the dissemination of one’s scholarship and lessen one’s impact as an author. 

One of the benefits of the UF Author Rights Policy is that it helps faculty authors retain rights to share a peer-reviewed version of their articles, but this policy does not cover student authors or any articles written before April 1, 2022. What are your options?

  1. When signing a new publisher agreement, learn more about which rights--if any--the publisher grants back to you to share and use your own work. For instance, most publishers allow students to republish an article in their dissertation. Some publishers may grant limited rights for teaching or sharing versions of your article. Check SHERPA/RoMEO as a starting place to understand publisher sharing policies.
  2. If your publisher does not grant you the rights you're looking for, don't be shy about asking! It might take a little more time and a few emails, but it is worth asking, especially in cases where you hope to share your work with broad audiences who may lack journal subscriptions.

The Libraries also provide information on publisher agreements that facilitate free or discounted open access publishing options.


SHERPA/RoMEO collects information about publisher policies related to online sharing (“archiving”) of works published in most journals. Journals and publishers are classified according to a color scheme that relate to the archive rights that authors retain. Authors are encouraged to research the policies of journals they have published in or are considering submitting a manuscript to in order to ascertain what rights in that work they will retain. Authors who wish to publish a copy of their articles will want to look for journals classified as green or blue, then check on any additional restrictions.


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