Self-Archiving: Options for First and Secondary Publications

There are two basic ways to self-archive: (First) publication of previously unpublished works and (secondary) publication of works that have already appeared elsewhere as journal articles, in a repository.

First publication in a repository

Unpublished works (primary publications) can be published in a repository. One advantage of repositories is that the content is permanently stored and is widely accessible. This is not possible in academic social networks such as ResearchGate or Academia. Not only articles can be submitted but also dissertations and book chapters, posters, datasets, reports, lectures and conference papers. Authors are thereby able to retain the exclusive rights to their works and transfer only a simple usage right to the operator of the repository for making the document available on the internet.

Alternatively, you can often also publish your works under an open content licence. Using open content licences, authors can determine under which conditions a document published in Open Access can be used by third parties. The granting of specific usage rights on the basis of these kinds of licence makes legal enforcement easier in the event of misuse and provides the users with explicit information about how they can use the document.

Naturally, you can also use the option of first publication in Open Access for entire books.

Secondary publication in a repository

The secondary publication can take place simultaneously or subsequently to the first publication (for example as a preprint or postprint to a scientific article, but also as a monograph, research report, or conference paper). In the secondary publication, publications are often first available after an embargo period, depending on the Open Access policy of the publisher or the journal.
Regarding the conditions for self-archiving, two points are decisive:

  • The version of the paper that is permitted to be published and
  • the time when a publication is permitted.

Most publishers allow works to be made available parallel in institutional or subject-specific repositories. Often the final author’s version after the Peer Review (accepted manuscript) or the final version published by the publisher is used.

As far as possible, publishing agreements should be designed in such a way that authors have the right to self-archive. Therefore, authors should not transfer any exclusive usage rights to the publisher. In addition, within the framework of the self-archiving right applicable in Germany, articles in a collection that appears periodically at least twice a year, such as a research journal, and at least half of which have been produced in the course of publicly funded research activities, may be made publicly accessible once again as a secondary publication after twelve months, irrespective of the rights granted to a publisher.

Ideally, you should only grant the publisher simple usage rights for the intended types of use.

If this is not possible due to the limited options for drafting in the case of often standardized publishing agreements and no alternative publication options are available, then you should consider adding an addendum to the publication contract. This would allow you, for your part, to reserve the simple usage right for online use on a repository. There are already various contract addenda available for this. For example, the SPARC Author Addendum helps you to secure your rights to your publications as the author. For questions regarding the signing of a publishing contract, you will find support options listed in the introductions. There is also an online tool called Vertragsgenerator / contract generator (German) that helps to design individual contracts like a modular system and was developed in the AuROA project,

Also in the case of books, some publishers are now making self-archiving of individual book chapters or complete books easier. Issues that authors can negotiate in relation to their book publications are similar to those for other kinds of publications:

  • the openness of the publication,
  • the costs involved and
  • the possibility of secondary publication in a repository.

You may sometimes be able to obtain publication under a free licence or to expand self-archiving possibilities if you make an additional payment.