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Self-archiving is the act of (the author's) depositing a free copy of an electronic document online in order to provide open access to it.[1] The term usually refers to the self-archiving of peer-reviewed research journal and conference articles, as well as theses and book chapters, deposited in the author's own institutional repository or open archive for the purpose of maximizing its accessibility, usage and citation impact. The term green open access has become common in recent years, distinguishing this approach from gold open access, where the journal itself makes the articles publicly available without charge to the reader.[2]


Self-archiving was first explicitly proposed as a universal practice by Stevan Harnad in his 1994 online posting "Subversive Proposal" (later published in Association of Research Libraries[3]) although computer scientists had been practicing self-archiving in anonymous FTP archives since at least the 1980s (see CiteSeer) and physicists had been doing it since the early 1990s on the web (see arXiv).

As of September 2015, 78% of the 2107 publishers registered in the SHERPA/RoMEO publisher policy index endorse self-archiving by authors of the preprint and/or postprint versions of their papers.[4]


A majority of journals endorse unembargoed self-archiving of the postprint, immediately upon acceptance for publication. Other journals impose an embargo of 6–12 months or more on making the article open access.

Some publishers, such as Cambridge University Press[5] or the American Geophysical Union,[6] endorse self-archiving of the final published version of the article, not just peer-reviewed final drafts.

Whereas the right to self-archive postprints is often a copyright matter (if the rights have been transferred to the publisher), the right to self-archive preprints is merely a question of journal policy.[7]

Social research websites[edit]

In the late 2000s, social reference management software websites such as Mendeley,, and ResearchGate arose which facilitate sharing between researchers. In 2013, Elsevier (which purchased Mendeley) issued Digital Millenium Copyright Act takedown notices to for hosting scientific papers.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Harnad, S. (2001). "The Self-Archiving Initiative". Nature. 410 (6832): 1024–1025. doi:10.1038/35074210. 
  2. ^ Harnad, S., Brody, T., Vallieres, F., Carr, L., Hitchcock, S., Gingras, Y, Oppenheim, C., Stamerjohanns, H., & Hilf, E. (2004) The Access/Impact Problem and the Green and Gold Roads to Open Access. Serials Review 30.
  3. ^ Okerson, A. S. & O'Donnell, J. J. eds. (1995). Scholarly Journals at the Crossroads: A Subversive Proposal for Electronic Publishing. Association of Research Libraries. Retrieved from
  4. ^ "Statistics for the 2107 publishers in the RoMEO database". Retrieved 3 September 2015. 
  5. ^ Cambridge University Press. "Cambridge Journals Online: Open Access Options". 
  6. ^ American Geophysical Union. "Usage Permissions". 
  7. ^ Self-Archiving FAQ
  8. ^ Clarke, Michael. "The End of an Era for and Other Academic Networks?". The Scholarly Kitchen. Retrieved 2016-03-24. 

External links[edit]