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Observing the success so far of the Rights Retention Strategy


As someone who is independent of cOAlition S, I have been monitoring with great interest the application of the Rights Retention Strategy (RRS).

Using Google Scholar and Paperpile, I have documented over 500 works published across hundreds of different outlets using the Rights Retention Strategy language in the acknowledgements section of the work. Authors are using it to retain their rights in preprints, journal articles, conference papers, book chapters, and even posters – this makes perfect sense; the RRS language is simple and easy to add to research outputs. It’s not a burden to acknowledge one’s research funding and to add the statement: “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“, and so authors are doing this.

The RRS language is simple and easy. It's not a burden to acknowledge one's research funding and add the statement: ''For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a CC BY public copyright licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript… Click To Tweet

I am also pleased to observe that ALL the major publishers appear to be happily publishing works containing the RRS language, including Elsevier, ACS, Taylor & Francis, Wiley, IEEE, and Springer Nature (inc. Nature Publication Group). So, authors need not fear practising rights retention.

I note that the RRS is a tool that can be and is used across all disciplines – it works equally well for STEM and HSS. Indeed one of my favourite examples of RRS-in-action is a Wellcome Trust funded output by Dr Barbara Zipser from the Department of History at Royal Holloway, University of London. Thanks to the RRS language Dr Zipser included in her submission, there is a full-text accepted author manuscript version of her work available at EuropePMC for all to read, whilst separately the journal-published version is available from the publisher website behind a 25 euro paywall. The author accepted manuscript has undergone peer review and has been accepted by the publisher (it is not a rough preprint, from before peer review). I do not need to read a version that has publisher branding & logos. When researchers choose the “green” route to open access, people need not feel sorry for the journal publisher – individual and institutional subscribers pay handsomely to support the journal. Thus, green open access is never “unfunded“, as some publishers have tried to claim.

As a keen Wikimedian, I am delighted with another aspect of the RRS. Prior to the RRS, green OA copies of articles weren’t much used on Wikimedia Commons owing to incompatible licensing. But now, with the RRS, suddenly, RRS-using green OA copies become easier to adapt for re-use on other websites. As Wikipedia is one of the top 15 most visited websites globally, I think it is very important that academic research is not prevented from being used there by overly restrictive licensing conditions. To celebrate this openness, I have added a few figure images sourced from cOAlition S funded, CC BY licensed, author accepted manuscripts using RRS to Wikimedia Commons. These images can be re-used within suitable Wikipedia articles across all languages, helping the transmission of research information beyond the constraints of academic journals and language barriers.

I am delighted that RRS-using green OA copies become easier to adapt for re-use on other websites. As Wikipedia is among the 15 most visited websites globally, it is very important academic research is not prevented from being used there… Click To Tweet

“The seven pillars of aging”, as depicted in Wellcome Trust funded research, for which the authors accepted manuscript, inclusive of this image, is licensed for use by the authors under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licence (CC BY). Image Credit: © David Gems & João Pedro de Magalhães from their article “The hoverfly and the wasp: A critique of the hallmarks of aging as a paradigm” as made available at EuropePMC.


I am particularly impressed with how the Irish institutional repository community has been adapting their workflows to accommodate and accurately present CC BY rights statements on deposits of author accepted manuscripts (AAMs) at Irish institutional repositories, often for Science Foundation Ireland funded research. To give one such example, I’ll point to a deposit of an AAM at the University of College Cork (UCC) repository, where the rights statement is clearly and correctly given as CC BY. I note with interest also that this AAM has been made available online before the publisher version of record (VOR) has been made available. Why wait for the publisher? Let the AAM free!

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I look forward to helping Arcadia Fund grantees use the Rights Retention Strategy to help their work have maximum impact, unrestrained by publisher-imposed artificial scarcity, from 2022 onwards when we align our open access policy with Plan S.

Ross Mounce

Ross Mounce is Director of Open Access Programmes at Arcadia Fund, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin. He was previously a postdoc at the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge where he researched the role of botanic gardens in ex-situ conservation of threatened species. He is also a Software Sustainability Fellow, and a Panton Fellow for open data in science. Together with Daniel Mietchen and Lyubomir Penev he is a founding editor of the award-winning open access journal Research Ideas and Outcomes. In his work on the council for the Systematics Association, he led them to sign the Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), and to experiment with crowdfunding for small grants. Ross is a member of the UKSCL (Scholarly Communications Licence) group and the Subscribe to Open community.