Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why do we have/need an open access policy?

A: Under the traditional publishing model, most authors transfer copyright to the publisher, leaving no rights retained by authors to share their work freely, online, as they choose. Publishers use these copyrights to charge for access to the final, published work. Publishers can also use their held copyright to prohibit authors from making their own work available for no charge in an institutional repository such as SMARTech. Under the Open Access Policy, a Faculty member may deposit a ‘post-print’ of his/her scholarly article into SMARTech.

Q: What is a post-print?  

A: The term ‘post-print’ refers to the author’s manuscript version that has been peer reviewed and revised, but without the publisher’s formatting, layout, and typefacing applied.

 Q: Is Georgia Tech claiming copyright ownership of what I write?  

A: Not at all. The policy grants Georgia Tech only the right to make the post-print of your article accessible via SMARTech (or a similar repository). You keep your copyright until such time as you sign it over to a publisher.

Q: If I decide to sign my copyright over to a publisher, do I then have to take my paper out of SMARTech (or other repository)?   

A: Not necessarily. Even if you sign over exclusive rights to a publisher, many publishers still allow archiving of the author's peer-reviewed manuscript version. Check your publisher's policies before signing. You can also amend an agreement to let publishers know you wish to put a manuscript version in a repository (contact us for more information about this). Read any agreement with a publisher carefully before signing in order to be fully aware of the rights you are signing away.

Q: What kinds of publications are included in this policy?  

A: This policy applies to all published scholarly articles that any person authors or coauthors while appointed as a member of the Faculty, except for any such articles authored or co-authored before the adoption of this policy, or subject to a conflicting agreement formed before the adoption of this policy, or conducted under a classified research agreement. Examples of excluded content include books, course materials, theses, student-only publications, opinion pieces.   

Q: What universities have tried open access policies and what good has come to them from it?  

A: You can find a list of institutions and funders with open access policies here: One form of desired “good” might be increased distribution and citation to work. Studies have found that publications available via open access experience more downloads than those available by subscription only. There are conflicting results regarding whether publications available by open access experience more citations, though most studies find an increase in citations. See for more information.   

Q: Will Georgia Techʼs policy force compliance in a manner conflicting with my funding sources or with the policies of the journals in which I want to publish?  

A: No. In fact, funding sources are increasingly requiring that publications resulting from research grants be made freely and openly accessible. The NIH has had a policy in place for several years, and the Department of Energy implemented a policy in October of 2014. However, the policy will not require you to take action that conflicts with funding sources or journal policies, because you can opt out. The policy makes it possible for you to retain rights, if you choose to do so and if that choice is compatible with your funding sources and journal policies.

Q: Why do we not make open access opt in?  

A: Opt in approaches, also called recommendations, do not have the influence over publisher policies that opt out approaches have. A number of publishers have policies that allow archiving “if required by employer/funding agency”. A Georgia Tech policy with opt out will allow authors to fall under the “if” condition.  Further, because this is an official policy applying to all faculty, a publisher cannot say that the policy does not apply. By virtue of being a Georgia Tech faculty member, the policy applies. The publisher may request that you opt out, which you are free to do if you wish.

Q: Does passing an open access policy mean that Georgia Tech will require/encourage us to publish in open access journals?  

A: No. The policy neither encourages nor discourages publication in any venue type. Faculty should publish in the venues that are most appropriate for their work.   

Q: Did Georgia Tech adopt this policy to harm publishers?  

A: No. The goals of this policy are the dissemination of Georgia Tech’s scholarly work, and proactively preparing us for coming federal guidelines for public access to research. We expect scholarly publishers, whatever their business model, are also preparing for the increased requirements for scholarly work to be made open access.     

Q: Why should Georgia Tech stick its neck out?  

A: The policy gives authors who are so inclined a chance to increase the distribution and possibly impact of their work by making it more widely available. Changes in publishing are a reality and will continue to be so. Establishing a policy that works for Georgia Tech on our terms means we have a chance to lead in any system-wide policy discussions that may take place later.   

Q: What do I have to do if/when I donʼt want to participate in the policy for a given article?  

A: The policy asks that you opt out. The library maintains a simple web-based form to allow you to do that, but the library does not enforce compliance with the policy.   

Q: What do I have to do if my publisher does not wish for me to comply with the Open Access Policy?  

A: Compliance is your decision. The publisher can request that you get a waiver for the policy, which is automatically granted to you with no questions asked.