New Self-Archiving policy enables immediate open access for University of Cambridge researchers 

A researcher reads from a laptop whilst sitting in a green chair in the Medical Library
A researcher reads from his phone whilst sitting on a high stool at a desk in the Medical Library. He is surrounded by pot plants.
A researcher reads from her laptop whilst sitting on a green upholstered chair in the Medical Library.

The University of Cambridge introduces a new Self-Archiving Policy on 1 April 2023.

The policy gives Cambridge researchers a cost-effective route to make the accepted version of their papers open access without embargo – something that is now required by almost all research funders.   

University of Cambridge researchers may now retain their rights over their paper rather than signing them over to a publisher. Researchers can then self-archive the work in the University’s repository, Apollo, making the work available via the so-called ‘green route’ to open access.

The publisher is notified in advance of submission that the researcher will release an open access version of their article upon publication. It allows researchers to comply with open access policies without additional payment by the University.  

The Cambridge policy has been developed from a one-year pilot at the University, launched in April 2022, during which more than 400 volunteer researchers shared their experiences of retaining their rights with the University’s guidance. Many members of the University also responded to a productive consultation on the proposed policy in January 2023.  

"This policy really has been moulded by our Cambridge community. The hundreds of researchers who took part in our Rights Retention Pilot have helped us understand the implications of this approach across a wide range of disciplines. We’re delighted that, with this Self-Archiving policy, the University of Cambridge can further support our researchers in making the accepted version of their papers open access without embargo.
Niamh Tumelty, Head of Open Research Services at Cambridge University Libraries

Rights retention gives researchers a solution when other routes to open access are not available to them – for instance when a journal moves unexpectedly out of a read and publish agreement meaning publishing costs are no longer bundled with journal subscription costs but must be met separately. It also provides an answer if a publisher does not offer any publishing route that meets the requirements of the research funder.  

The approach was originally devised in Harvard in 2008 but has recently seen a resurgence in interest, due in part to the changing open access policy landscape. The cOAlition S initiative to realise full and immediate open access to research publications has been a catalyst for development of similar policies, and Cambridge University Libraries are particularly grateful to the University of Edinburgh for sharing their approach.    

The Self-Archiving policy is significant progress towards supporting researchers to achieve full and immediate open access to research publications. However, says Niamh Tumelty, this is not the end goal. 

"We have work to do to reach an equitable approach to global scholarly publishing, and we can learn a lot especially from how South America approaches these issues. We’re delighted, though, that the University of Cambridge is taking this important step on the journey."
Niamh Tumelty

The Office of Scholarly Communication at Cambridge University Libraries has shared guidance on how to comply with this policy, which addresses options around licensing and opting out.

The team is also available to give briefings or discuss your questions – please contact     

Interested in learning more? Dr Sam Moore, Scholarly Communication Specialist at Cambridge University Libraries, explores publisher responses to the Right Retention pilot in a post for the Unlocking Research blog

The text in this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

A researchers reads from paper notes and a screen whilst sitting on the floor at an adjustable desk in the Moore Library