Rights Retention

Rights Retention

If you are a UoA author, follow this checklist to make your research outputs open access. 

The University of Aberdeen adopted a Research Publications and Copyright Policy in 2022. It is designed to support authors and help to share University research as widely as possible, in the output of your choice. There is a small additional step at the start of the publishing process that you are requested to do, but the remaining steps will already be familiar to published authors.  

The policy was introduced in November 2022 with all UoA authors expected to follow its requirements from 1 May 2023. The policy will be amended to include longform outputs, where a funder mandate is in place.

When publishing in a subscription journal Rights Retention supports immediate open access of a version of the manuscript, usually the accepted manuscript (AM). This is Green open access. It is recommended that the Rights Retention Statement (RRS) is included on all submissions, even when expecting to publish fully open access, to ensure all rights are retained and there is no impediment to open access in the event that the first choice of publication is not successful. 

When publishing a long form output, e.g. a monograph, chapter or edited collection, where a funder mandate is in place, the policy supports open access of the accepted manuscript within 12 months of publication. A Creative Commons licence that meets your funder mandate should be selected. It is recommended that you discuss your open access requirements with the publisher as early as possible to ensure compliance. 3rd party material included in the publication may be subject to different licencing terms.

If you are unsure about ANY of these steps, please contact the Open Research Team.

Before submission:

1. Rights Retention Statement (RRS) For Articles

Add the following Rights Retention Statement (RRS) in the funding acknowledgement section of the manuscript and any cover letter/note accompanying the submission: 

“For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) [or other appropriate open licence] licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission.” 

2. Rights Retention for Longform Outputs

The author(s) grant the University the right to deposit the accepted manuscript in the institutional or a subject repository within 12 months of publication, or sooner if mandated by a funder.  Before entering into a contract with a publisher for your longform publication discuss your requirement for making your AM open access with them, making sure that you can meet your funder open access requirements.

3. Inform Co-authors

Inform co-authors about University of Aberdeen’s requirements to share the accepted manuscript upon publication with a CC BY or other appropriate licence. Do this at the earliest point possible as action is required on submission to a publication. If you are not the corresponding author, please request the RRS to be included in the manuscript, or in the case of longform publications make sure the open access requirements are agreed as early as possible.

If for any reason, one of the co-authors raises this as an issue, please contact the Open Research Team  

4. Check Funding Availability for Articles

If a Publisher Agreement isn’t already in place contact the Open Research Team to see if support is available to cover the cost of publishing. The team will offer further guidance if there is no central budget available.  If you proceed and place an order without confirmation, then you may be held liable for costs. 

Page and colour charges – Look on the journal webpages to see if the publisher charges for any extra costs. *These extra charges are not covered by the Publisher Agreements or the open access fund and can also apply to Green Open Access print copies.   

Confirm your school has money available to cover these extra costs. 

Transformative Agreement: We have a number of Publisher Agreements in place.

Where there is no budget available for open access and no Agreement in place, the green route should be taken and RRS used to enable deposit of the AM in the institutional repository.

Definitions for the above terms can be found on our glossary of open research key terms.

5. Check Funding Availability for Longform Publications

Funds may be available from your funder to publish open access.

UKRI have made a fund available to support open access for longform outputs, the Open Research Team will advise on how to apply.

Wellcome ask that you apply to them directly.

European Commission grants may include funds for open access.

Other funders vary, check the terms and conditions of your grant if you are not sure.

There are no central funds available for open access. If you proceed and place an order without confirmation that funds are available, then you may be held liable for costs. 

Additional Points to Consider

Adding a Data Availability Statement is required by some funders, and we recommend inclusion for all outputs: It provides details on where the research data supporting the results reported in the paper can be found. Where applicable, links to the repository where the dataset(s) are publicly archived are included. 

Check your Funder OA requirements to make sure that your chosen journal complies through one of the routes. Please follow up with the Open Research Team if you are unsure about anything.

Upon Acceptance:

4. Act on acceptance

As soon as you have a research output (journal article, conference contribution, blog, book, chapter, etc.) accepted for publication please send:

  • Acceptance email 

  • A copy of the accepted manuscript (AM) 

to paperaccepted@abdn.ac.uk and we will deposit the article in Pure/AURA in accordance with any applicable open access policies including REF. 

5. Completing Publisher Forms for Articles

After your article is accepted for publication the publisher usually sends you a link to complete their online forms.  

You may need to tick a box that says you are giving the publisher copyright to complete the form. As RRS is a pre-existing agreement that takes precedence over this agreement, we advise you to tick this box so as not to delay publication. 

If you do not have funding in place, you should select the green route and self-archive. 

If your chosen journal specifically prohibits immediate open access of the AM and has contacted you to say this route is not possible then please contact the Open Research Team. They will assist you and will speak to the publisher on your behalf to ascertain the next step. 

  • Please note that if you have a UKRI/ Wellcome Trust/ ERC grant (or other funder that requires immediate OA) then your publisher may be preventing you from complying with your funder’s requirements. 


6. Request Payment for Open Access (Agreed prior to submission)

To arrange an open access APC payment previously agreed with the open access team, please contact openresearch@abdn.ac.uk for advice on how to proceed with payment.

  • Applies to Wellcome, UKRI, British Heart Foundation funded authors only.

After Publication:

7. Notification

When your output is published and available online, please send notification to the Open Research Team, or update your Pure record with the publication dates, so that the AM can be made open access as soon as possible with the correct final publication details. 

Deposit in Pure is not sufficient to ensure compliance with most medical funders’ OA policies (e.g. MRC, BBSRC, Wellcome Trust, Cancer Research UK, BHF). If required by funders, and you have taken Route 2 (Green OA) route then you may need to organise deposit in Europe PMC. This can be easily and quickly done by using the Europe PMC manuscript submission system

If you are unsure about ANY of these steps please do contact the Open Research Team


Any questions?


What is the University of Aberdeen Research Publications Policy?

Current practice in academic publishing requires corresponding authors to sign over their rights to publishers. This means that the author cannot share or reuse their work without permission from the publisher. Meanwhile the publisher retains an exclusive right to publish and sub-licence the rights to the work as they see fit.  

The new policy supports authors in retaining their rights to the peer-reviewed manuscript allowing immediate open access and re-use from the date of first online publication under an open licence. The Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence is encouraged, but the CC BY-NC licence may be used where there is a need to prevent commercial re-use. However other open licences as permitted by funders may also be used. Depending on your funder you may choose a different CC licence for longform publications, please check your funder requirements to ensure compliance. 

The new open access policy enables authors to submit their work to the publisher of their choice, while remaining compliant with funder open access policies.

How Does the Open Access Policy Work?

This policy applies to journal articles and conference proceedings authored or co-authored by staff currently employed by the University of Aberdeen and submitted for publication from 1st May 2023. The policy is being updated to include longform publications where a funder mandate is in place.

When publishing a research article you retain your rights to the author’s peer-reviewed accepted manuscript (AM) by including a statement notifying the publisher of your intention to apply an open licence to any resulting AM with the submitted manuscript and accompanying cover letter.

For long form outputs you should discuss your open access requirements with the publisher at the time you submit your proposal to ensure that the publisher agrees that the AM can be deposited in the institutional and other repository as mandated by your funder.  

We already encourage this approach to enable compliance with the UKRI Open Access policy

Co-authors should be informed about the requirement to share the AM upon publication with a Creative Commons license. If issues are raised, it is possible to opt out. 

The AM is deposited in Pure/AURA under the CC BY Creative Commons licence or other licence that meets funder requirements. 

What are the Benefits of the Policy?

The new policy aligns with the University’s 2040 strategy of being ‘open to all’ and our position on open research. 

Your research reaches the widest possible audience without restrictions such as publisher embargoes or paywalls.  

You retain the rights to your own work, ensuring that you can disseminate your peer-reviewed accepted manuscript in any way you choose, without publisher restrictions.  

You are enabled to submit your work to the journal or publisher of your choice, while remaining compliant with funder and future Research Excellence Framework (REF) open access policies.  

What are Creative Commons licences, and what do CC BY and CC BY-NC mean?

Creative Commons licenses allow the author to retain copyright whilst allowing others to copy, distribute and reuse the work under the terms of the individual licence. Many funders, including UKRI, now mandate their use.  

CC BY allows any reuse, as long as the creator is attributed.  

CC BY-NC prohibits commercial reuse  

The Library Open Research Team can provide support and advice on licences and guidance is available on the Open Research webpages.  

The University of Aberdeen encourages the use of the CC BY licence but will also apply a CC BY-NC licence where the author wishes to prevent commercial use. Where there is a funder requirement for a specific licence, the author is expected to abide by this to ensure compliance. 

What Should I do if my Output Includes Third Party Copyright?

For outputs with third party copyright material, please clearly indicate within the manuscript the terms under which the material is released, and state that the CC BY licence is not applicable to this material. 

UKRI have published a Guide to Managing Third Party Copyright for Researchers.

What if a Publisher Refuses to Publish my Output Because of the Rights Retention Statement?

While a publisher is under no obligation to consider a manuscript containing a rights retention statement, they should decline to publish such outputs at the earliest possible opportunity and allow you to submit to another venue. In such cases, your choices are to (a) opt out and publish under the publisher’s terms, which may not be compliant with funder policy, or (b) select another output. 

If your chosen publication specifically prohibits immediate open access of the AM and has contacted you to say this route is not possible then please contact the Open Research Team. They will assist you and will speak to the publisher on your behalf to ascertain the next step. 

Please note that if you have a UKRI/ Wellcome Trust/ ERC grant (or other funder that requires immediate OA) then your publisher may be preventing you from complying with your funder’s requirements. 

Are there any Legal Risks to me?

The only legal risk relates to any inadvertent signing of a publisher copyright transfer agreement that contradicts the University of Aberdeen’s prior retention of non-exclusive rights. 

The University of Aberdeen has sought legal advice on this and is confident that the risk in relation to this policy is low, as long as it follows the guidance that has been provided by the legal team. Wherever possible, any risk in relation to this policy will be borne by the University of Aberdeen and not by the individual researcher. As long as you include the rights retention statement provided above, there is no legal risk. 

How do I Find out my Funder/REF Open Access Requirements?

Check if your funder has an open access policy that you must comply with. If your funder is not included on our webpage, check your grant t&cs. Contact the Open Research Team if you are unsure. 

The REF open access policy is currently under review. You must follow the REF2021 open access policy until further notice.

How Does Rights Retention Help me with REF Compliance?

The REF open access policy is currently under review. You must follow the REF2021 open access policy until further notice.

In order to be eligible for submission in the next REF, all journal articles and conference proceedings with an ISSN number that have been accepted for publication on or after 1 April 2016 must be publicly accessible through an institutional or subject repository within 3 months of acceptance for publication. 
Use of the Rights Retention Statement will ensure the accepted manuscript can be deposited in Pure/AURA without restriction, thus ensuring REF compliance. 
There are currently no open access requirements for longform publications in the REF policy. This will change after review but any changes to the policy will be widely circulated.
What if my Co-Author's are not Based in the UK?

Explain your requirements to your co-authors and the benefits of making research open access. It is possible they will have similar requirements from their own institutions and funders. 

If any co-author objects to use of the RRS and cannot be convinced contact the Open Research Team.

Are Students Covered by this Policy?

Research students who are authors of scholarly articles associated with this policy are subject to it. Taught students are not subject to this policy, however the University of Aberdeen encourages them to use an individual open access licence instead of signing a publisher agreement. The Library Open Research team can support them to do so. 

Can I Opt Out?

You may opt out of this policy on an individual article basis. We ask you to notify us by completing this form, stating your reason, but you will not be required to gain permission. 

Even if you opt out, you are still required to deposit your AM in Pure/AURA. Check the publisher self-archiving policy of the journal you wish to publish in. An embargo may be applied to the AM meaning you can’t comply with funder or Research Excellence Framework (REF) open access policies.   

When considering opting-out contact the Library Open Research Team who will advise on funder requirements and available options. If in doubt about the terms and conditions of your grant please contact the Research Policy and Strategy Team in Research and Innovation. It is important to be clear on this at the very outset, to plan accordingly. 

Where Do I Go for Help?

The Library Open Research team will provide support for all aspects of this policy. Where there is a need for advice on the specific terms and conditions associated with a research grant, the Research Policy and Strategy Team in Research and Innovation will be able to advise. 

The Rights Retention Statement

Get a super quick overview of how to apply Rights Retention to your journal articles!