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Common terms to know

Definitions of article versions:

Preprint (or Author’s Original Manuscript): your original, non-peer-reviewed manuscript initially submitted to a publisher

Postprint (or Accepted Manuscript): a peer-reviewed version of your article, prior to publisher “add-ons” such as formatting, proofreading, pagination, etc.

Version of Record (VoR): your final, published article (typically in PDF form, provided by the publisher)


Open Access definitions:

Open Access: “Open Access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.” –Peter Suber, Head of the Office of Scholarly Communication, Harvard University (link to Suber's OA overview)

Green” Open Access: Posting a version of a research product (article, poster, video presentation, data set, etc.) online for free through an institutional or subject-based repository. Examples include arXiv ( and preprint repositories hosted by Open Science Framework (

  • University of Houston Green Open Access Repositories (free and available to anybody with an active CougarNet ID):

Gold” Open Access: Publishing a finished research product in an open access journal, often after paying an article processing charge (APC)


Publishing terms:

Addendum - A legal document that describes additional terms to a prior agreement. It must be signed by both parties and incorporated as a part of the prior agreement.

Author rights/literary rights - Synonyms for copyright. Neither term has any legal significance.

Copyright - A legal protection for creative intellectual property works.

Copyright license - An agreement to permit another party to use all or some of their copyrights. Typically for a limited duration. E.g., Copyright owners should license to publishers the rights to copy and distribute their work so it can be disseminated in a professional publication, while they simultaneously retain their copyrights so they may also use their work.

Copyright transfer - A complete relinquishment of rights from one party to another. E.g., Many publishers prefer a complete copyright transfer so the publisher can use the work as they desire.

Embargo - A period of time in which an author or publisher prohibits the other party from making the underlying work publicly available.

Exclusive license -  An agreement permitting only one other party to use all or some of a copyright owner's rights. Typically for a limited duration. E.g., Publishers often prefer an exclusive license, which gives them the right to be the only party to engage in certain activities such as reproduction and distribution.

Irrevocable license - An agreement that cannot be changed or terminated. E.g., Most publishers prefer an irrevocable license because it ensures they can continue to engage in the rights granted to them in perpetuity.

Non-exclusive license - An agreement permitting one or more parties to use all or some of a copyright owner's rights.Typically for a limited duration. E.g., A copyright owner may enter into multiple non-exclusive licenses with multiple parties such that Party A has a license to copy and distribute for one year, but Party B has a license to copy, distribute, and publicly perform for three years.

Revocable - An agreement that can be changed or terminated. E.g., Most authors should seek revocable licenses with publishers because it ensures the authors can end an agreement and retain the rights they licensed to a publisher.