Items deposited in IUScholarWorks must adhere to copyright laws, meaning that some actions are required for certain materials before they can legally be placed in the repository. If an article is unpublished, the author possesses the rights over the work and is free to submit it to IUScholarWorks as long as they agree with the repository’s license, which allows IU Libraries to share and preserve the work. This is often true for a variety of research materials, including poster presentations, technical reports, and sometimes conference proceedings. If an author wishes to submit an article or book chapter that has been previously published, though, the author should determine if they are the rights holder. If they are not, brief copyright research is required before depositing into IUScholarWorks.

Often copyright transfers over to a publisher upon publication of an article, so the publisher will need to be consulted prior to depositing it. If the author has a signed publishing agreement, this should indicate what the rights are. If the author does not have this document, the following outlines suggestions for moving forward.

  1. The first step is to search SHERPA/RoMEO, a freely available online database of publisher copyright policies. Simply type in the name of a journal, and the database will display information on what an author can submit to an institutional repository such as IUScholarWorks. (For those new to this tool, this helpful video should clarify the search process and terminology.)
  2. If you cannot find information through SHERPA/RoMEO, check to see if the journal has a website. If so, copyright information may be located under copyright or self-archiving policies in the journal information section.
  3. The final way to check copyright of an article is to contact the editor of the journal – not the publisher, which usually oversees many journals. It is helpful for the author of the work in question to write the message. This usually helps expedite the process. Various online resources provide sample letters to an editor requesting copyright information. You can also e-mail for assistance with reaching out to editors. 

These steps will indicate which version of an article can be deposited in IUScholarWorks: a pre-print, post-print, or the publisher’s version of the article. A preprint is the final version of your work that has been submitted to a publisher, but has not yet been peer reviewed. A postprint is the publisher accepted version after it has been peer reviewed, and lastly, the published version, or offprint, is the final typeset version of your work. 

Descriptions outlined in above paragraph.
A visual explaining the differences between postprints and publisher versions of articles


An easy way to avoid future copyright questions is to complete the SPARC Author Addendum prior to signing copyright over to a publisher. This legal document ensures that the author keeps the rights to their work, including the ability to archive items in an institutional repository like IUScholarWorks. For questions regarding copyright and IUScholarWorks, contact