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Open Access

Rights Retention

Rights retention is a way to publish Open Access immediately without having to pay for Article Processing Charges (APCs). 

Rights retention is asserting first your own copyright in your authored research publications before accepting the publisher’s terms. This enables you to upload your peer reviewed Author’s Accepted Manuscript (AAM) directly into our UEA Digital Repository (via Pure) without having to comply with any publisher embargo period.  

This helps ensure compliance with funder open access policies, for example UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), Wellcome Trust, and the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR). As well as being important for funder compliance, making all your publications open access without embargo can help increase the visibility, and potentially the impact, of your research. It is also beneficial for those whose research is unfunded or if you are an early career researcher without funds to pay APCs. 

Is asserting rights retention mandatory at UEA? 

Using a Rights retention strategy is optional at UEA at present but we are consulting on having an institutional policy which would require using rights retention. Including a Rights Retention statement on all submissions, even when expecting to publish fully open access, would ensure that all rights are retained and there is no impediment to open access in the event that the first choice of publication is not successful. 

As a minimum, for funded research, UEA strongly encourages academics and researchers to follow the UKRI guidance on notifying your publisher of your need to upload your Author’s Accepted Manuscript (AAM) in the UEA digital repository so it can comply with funders Open Access requirements. 

This applies: 

  • when you are publishing in a subscription journal, and that journal would otherwise require an embargo period, before permitting Open Access.  
  • when you are publishing in a hybrid journal not covered by a Read and Publish transitional deal, and that journal would otherwise require an embargo period, before permitting open access.  

As part of its UKRI Open Access Policy, UKRI has guidance on notifying your publisher about what you need to do to comply.  

You should use the following text: 

This research was funded in whole, or in part, by Research Council (Grant number XX/xxxxxxx/X) and/or the Wellcome Trust [Grant number xxxxx]. For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a CC BY public copyright licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission. 

Make sure you replace the text in italics with the relevant funder and grant information. 

The statement should ideally be included in several pages when you submit your article: 

  • The email/note/covering letter that accompanies your submission 
  • The funding acknowledgement section of the article 

An example cover letter template has been made available by the University of St Andrews, though please take care to change the institution name if using: 

If you prefer to check with the publisher before even submitting, you can use this template: Open Access Rights Retention pre-submission template (Word). 

If you have any challenge from the publisher resulting from rights retention, please contact for support and advice. 

Additional point to note: 

Where permitted by UKRI, an ‘Open Government Licence' or ‘Creative Commons Attribution No-Derivatives (CC BY-ND) licence' may be applied instead of the CC BY one. 

If UEA did have an institutional rights retention policy, it would help provide support for authors when asserting their rights. For instance, publishers who objected would also be challenging the university, rather than just the individual researcher, which may reduce the likelihood of challenge. It would also remove much of the worry and associated administration for researchers.   

In accordance with UEA's existing Intellectual Property Policy, with an institutional rights retention policy researchers would still retain the first copyright over their research publications and their choice of publisher and publication. 

An institutional rights retention policy would grant UEA a perpetual, royalty-free, non-exclusive licence to use any Author Accepted Manuscripts (AAMs) created by research staff for archival and open access purposes. In practice, this would mean the right for you to self-deposit your AAM to Pure and EPrints and make it available immediately, even if the publisher’s standard terms and conditions state an embargo. 

The policy would apply to scholarly articles and conference proceedings. It would not apply to monographs, textbooks, book chapters, creative writing etc (but please check if your funder has any requirements around these types of output). 

UEA is currently consulting on introducing an Institutional Rights Retention Policy. 23 UK institutions (and European/US sites) now have ‘opt-out’ rights retention policies, (e.g. Aberdeen, Bath, Cambridge, Durham, Exeter, Imperial, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Loughborough, Manchester, Newcastle, Oxford, Sheffield, Sussex, York), and others are looking to introduce a policy. 

  • To support researchers to share their expertise and findings more easily via the Green self-deposit route  

  • To make it easier for those without access to funding to publish open access 

  • To future proof against fallout from Read and Publish deals if they fail 

  • To constrain institutional publishing costs 

  • To future proof against any future loss of UKRI Open Access Block Grant (OABG) 

  • To future proof against any future REF2029 requirements 

The aim is to enable unrestricted dissemination of knowledge within the scientific community and beyond. 

Some publications available in open access do not have a licence, even when deposited in an open archive. But this means that it is necessary to ask the authors' permission to reuse them. 

A Creative Commons licence specifies the conditions that apply to the publication: typically the right to share and reuse it, provided the authors are duly credited. Furthermore, a CC BY licence guarantees open access to the publication in the future and prevents third parties from restricting access at a later date. 

So to secure the long-term open access to their publications, authors must apply an appropriate licence to their manuscript. For more information on types of licences, go to the Creative Commons website.  

Acknowledgement: This advice is taken directly from: Implementing the rights retention strategy for scientific publications: Guide for Researchers by Ministere De L'Enseignement Superieur et de la Recherche.