Content policies

Many RoMEO Green publishers do not allow the use of the published PDF file. What they allow to be used instead is the author's-version. This can go by many names, but can be taken to be the final version produced by the author, with all peer-review and other editorial changes in place in the text, but before layout and minor sub-editing changes.

In other words, this is the final version as produced and approved by the author before it leaves the author's hands. The level of sub-editing and subsequent changes introduced by the publisher varies wildly. Some insist on camera-ready copy, in which case the author's final version is exactly the same as that which is published. Others introduce type-face changes, and modifications to layout, etc. Other publishers claim to carry out more substantial changes after it has left the author's hands, but this is rarely recognised or identified by the authors' themselves and by report, in many cases would be strongly resented.

Leaving aside the level and type of subsequent editing introduced by the publisher, the author's-version, therefore, shows the final version of the text as written and approved by the author. As such, this seems a perfectly acceptable version for dissemination and use. However, there can be problems.

What many repository administrators have found surprising is that many, if not most, authors do not retain a copy of their final version. For their own future use and reference these authors use the copy published in the journal. This habit means that the author's-version is often unavailable, and leaves the author unable to deposit an eprint of their article.

It can prove very difficult to track down a version as written by the author. If the author themselves does not have a copy, one possible source is the editor of the journal. A number of academic editors keep copies of the articles with which they are involved as part of their editorial processes. In searching for an author's-version, it can be worthwhile for an author contacting their editor to see if a copy has been retained.

Where no copy has been retained, then it may not be possible to deposit a copy of the article. Even though the text might be exactly the same as that in the published pdf which may be given to the author, if a publisher prohibits its use, the fact of the text's availability through the pdf is irrelevant. Copyright means that this pdf version cannot be used.

Therefore, possibly the single most useful change of habit that can be promoted is to encourage authors to retain a copy of their final text - and save it somewhere obvious and safe. This is a simple step while the article is being produced and also helps to encourage a greater realisation of the publishing process and the change of rights that often occurs as part of it.

Hubbard, Bill. (2007) Green, Blue, Yellow, White & Gold: A brief guide to the open access rainbow, http://www.sherpa.ac.uk/documents/oa_rainbow_guide.pdf, Accessed 4th November 2010

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