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Open Access & Institutional Repository: Rights Retention Strategy (RRS)

What is the Rights Retention Strategy?

The Rights Retention Strategy (RRS) enables authors to retain copyright of their Author Accepted Manuscript (AAM). The RRS was developed by cOAlition S under Plan S which aims to achieve immediate open access to research underpinned by a grant without monetising the process, please see

Asserting your copyright: retaining rights to your journal articles

As the author of original work, you can retain the rights of the Author Accepted Manuscript, even if you transfer copyright of the final published version to the publisher. The Author Accepted Manuscript, also known as the Accepted Manuscript, is the version incorporating any changes resulting from peer review but no publisher branding. You have the right to choose and assign a license to your Author Accepted Manuscript, determining how it can be shared, used and built upon.

If you publish open access with a Creative Commons license, you retain your full copyright for all versions of your article. If you publish in a traditional subscription journal, you typically sign a form transferring copyright to that publisher. However, you can assign a Creative Commons license to the Accepted Manuscript on submission and that license is irrevocable, regardless of any restrictions on sharing imposed by the publisher.

This prior assignment of rights is a requirement for journal articles acknowledging funding from UKRI, NIHR and the Wellcome Trust to ensure immediate open access in a repository if the final published version is behind a paywall. As a creator of original research, you can choose to notify the publisher that you have assigned a Creative Commons license to the Accepted Manuscript, even if it is not required by your funder.

The Library recommends that staff expecting to publish open access in a subscription (hybrid) journal use rights retention as a backstop. Those who wish to assert this right on their Accepted Manuscript can do so by assigning a CC BY (Creative Commons Attribution) license using the statement below, and should deposit the Accepted Manuscript in Pure for it to be made available in our institutional repository, ePrints|Soton, immediately upon publication.

When you submit your paper to the journal

Include the following statement in the acknowledgement section (or if this isn’t available upon submission, in the footer of the article) along with a covering letter/note.

‘For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a Creative Commons attribution license (CC BY) to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission.'

Dear Editor, Please find enclosed/attached my submission to [journal]. Please note that, for the purpose of open access, the author has applied a Creative Commons attribution license (CC BY) to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission. Kind regards,

For funder specific open access requirements please see our pages for CRUKNIHR, UKRI and Wellcome Trust.

When your paper is accepted

When creating the record in Pure, please select the CC BY license for the Accepted Manuscript when you ‘Upload an electronic version’ and add either the wording "Funded by UKRI" or "Funded by Wellcome Trust", or your Rights Retention statement text to the ‘Bibliographic notes’ field.

Quick Look Posters

We've created some quick look posters to help you navigate the steps of applying your rights to your accepted manuscript. 


Further information

As the rightsholder, you have the right to choose how each version of your research is licensed. If you choose to apply a Creative Commons license to the Authors Accepted Manuscript prior to submission to the journal, the publisher should accept that prior assignment of rights, or they can choose to decline (desk reject) your submission ahead of peer-review. If this means your article will not comply with your funder’s open access policy, you will need to resubmit your paper to a different journal. If this does happen, we would like to hear from you. Also, if the journal editor queries the rights retention statement after your article has been accepted and you require guidance, please contact detailing the situation. Please include the journal name, publisher and any other useful details, such as messages sent from the publisher.

We recognise that in certain circumstances, non-compliance with funder open access requirements will be unavoidable and that this approach may cause some unwelcome disruption. We appreciate your support as the University plays our part in international and national initiatives to achieve full and immediate open access for publicly funded research. We can advise on the most frictionless routes to open access publication. 

We do hold open access block grants for research acknowledging UKRI, Wellcome Trust or Cancer Research UK, available for articles submitted to fully open access journals. You can also use our journal search tool to check if you can publish open access in your chosen journal without paying an Article Processing Charge (APC).

Journal article versions

Journal Article VersionsDiagram showing that the submitted and accepted manuscript versions of an article are author owned, and the proof and final version of record are publisher owned

Created by the Office of Scholarly Communication, Cambridge University Libraries, available under a CC BY licence