Copyright Guidelines for Authors

In order to deposit a work in ScholarlyCommons@Penn, you must hold the copyright to that work, or have the approval of the copyright holder to do so. If the work is also being published by a traditional publisher, though, you may have transferred your copyright to them as part of the publication process. You need to know the copyright status of your work before submitting it to ScholarlyCommons. Please also see our copyright policy.


If you retain copyright to the work in question, and have not given someone else exclusive rights to distribute it, you should be able to submit it to ScholarlyCommons@Penn. You can proceed to directly submit a paper via your account, or review the help if needed.

If you share the copyright with other authors, check with them to make sure they also approve of the work being archived and made available at ScholarlyCommmons@Penn.


If you do not retain copyright, but have transferred your rights to your publisher, you may still be able to deposit a version of your paper in ScholarlyCommmons@Penn. You should check your publisher's copyright policy to determine what is allowed to be submitted to an institutional repository. We recommend that you use the SHERPA listing of publisher copyright policies.

Some publishers allow such deposit, though often with certain conditions:
  • some allow the postprint to be submitted to an institutional repository, but not the publisher's PDF version. (The "postprint" is the final, post-peer-review version of the article as it has been accepted for publication. It is typically submitted to the repository as a file in a word-processing format such as MS-Word. The "publisher's PDF" is an exact page image of the article as it appears in print.) For more information, see our guide to distinguishing a publisher's PDF and a postprint.
  • some allow deposit, but not until the publisher’s version has been released (or some specified period after release)
  • some publishers require acknowledgement that they hold the copyright, and/or a link to the final version on their web site
Other publishers do not allow any version of the article to be deposited.

While the SHERPA listing is growing, it does not cover all publishers. Please contact us ( if you have questions, or need assistance determining the copyright status of your work.


Because of mergers and acquisitions, it is sometimes difficult to identify the parent company for a journal. The SHERPA site allows you to input the journal name to look up the publisher, which you can then look up on the SHERPA listing to check its policies.


When you submit an article, in addition to entering descriptive information such as the author(s), title, date, keywords, and abstract, it is important to include citation information as well. This should be noted in the [Comments...] section when you submit the paper.

DOI - Digital Object Identifier: Many publishers assign a number called a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) to each article they publish. If you want to--or are required to--indicate a reference to the publisher's final version of a paper, including a DOI provides a stable, permanent identifier. You can turn a DOI into a URL by prefixing to the front of the DOI. Alternatively, you can use CrossRef's free DOI lookup service. You have to enter either the Journal Title or the ISSN (they recommend title), and either the first named author or the first page number. The more information you input, the fewer results you will need to to look through.


Consider retaining rights to your article by attaching the SPARC Addendum to your publisher's contract.


Please contact us () with any questions.

PLEASE NOTE: This document can only provide guidelines and should not be relied upon for legal advice. See also the ScholarlyCommons@Penn Copyright Policy.