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Open Access

Information about open access, self-archiving and repositories.

Can work published in a traditional journal be made open access for free?

Maybe. It is sometimes possible that work published in a traditional (as opposed to open access) journal can be made openly available in a repository such as DalSpace, even if the work is already published. This is called "green" open access and it is an attractive open access option because there is no charge to deposit works in DalSpace. There are several issues to consider:

What have I agreed to?

When your work is accepted by a journal, you and the publisher enter into a Publishing Agreement. Among the considerations of a publishing agreement are:

  • Ownership of the rights to the work. Very often, authors sign copyright over to the publisher which means you need the permission of the publisher before you can post or share it, just like anyone else. This permission may not be granted, or only with payment of a fee.
  • Limits and embargoes. Publishers may allow authors to retain some limited privileges to share or post their work (see next section for more details).
  • Other items might include requirements for data sharing, or licensing details when copyright is not transferred to the publisher.
  • If your work is not already published, look for journals that permit deposit of the accepted version of your manuscript (aka the post-print) in an institutional repository (DalSpace here at Dalhousie). This is known as "green open access."


I don't know! How can I find out?

  • The terms of the publishing agreement are available from the journal. However, Sherpa Romeo is a widely used look up tool that can help you find the open access sharing policies of specific journals. 

Once you have found the terms of your publishing agreement, consider the three questions below.

For copyright related information, be sure to visit the Copyright Office's page on Retaining Your Copyright.


The three questions for making published work open access

These are the questions that must be answered before work published in a non-open access journal can be made open access:

Which version can you share?

  • Publisher's final version? This is the version that appears in the journal with the final copy-editing, formatting, and page numbers.
  • Post-print? This is the final version submitted by the authors AFTER peer review.
  • Pre-print? This is the version originally submitted to the journal BEFORE peer review.

Where can you share?

  • Institutional (such as DalSpace) or subject-specific repositories? When sharing is possible, these are permitted and are your best bet for ensuring long-term access to your work.
  • Personal, departmental, project, etc. websites? This is not necessarily permitted and does not safeguard your work over the long term.
  • Social media sites? This includes ResearchGate and These are not repositories, do not meet funder requirements, and are not often permitted.

When can you share?

  • Is there an embargo period? (A limited time after the article is published in which no sharing or posting is permitted)
  • If there is an embargo period, how long does it last? (This can range from months to years) To comply with the Tri-Agencies Policy on Open Access, the embargo period must be no longer than one year.

What is Required by the Tri-Agencies?

The Tri-Agency Policy on Open Access states "Grant recipients are required to ensure that any peer-reviewed journal publications arising from Agency-supported research are freely accessible within 12 months of publication."

So you should share your publication in at least one of the following ways, preferably both:

  • In a journal that offers open access publication, and/or
  • In an institutional or subject-specific repository within one year of the article's journal publication. (Post-print or publisher's version as permitted)

(For more details and other funders see the Tri-Agency and Other Publication Policies tab)

How do I put my work in DalSpace?

You are able to make your work Green Open Access? Great! Put your wallet away because open access in DalSpace is free!

DalSpace is our institutional repository here at Dalhousie that will ensure long term accessibility of your work in compliance with funder mandates. You can deposit your work in DalSpace at anytime regardless of journal required embargos - there's no need to wait. Just let us know the embargo period and we will establish an automatic future release date that matches your requirements. For information on how to submit you work, see the DalSpace tab for more information and instructions.