When you’ve written a paper, you own the copyright to that work. You can alter, reproduce, or distribute it however you like.
However, the method you choose to publish your work may affect your copyright. Many traditional publishers ask authors to sign publishing agreements which transfer copyright from you the author, to the publisher. Depending on the agreement, it could mean you no longer have rights to your work, and you would have to ask permission from the publisher to share it, post it online, or alter it in any way.
If you choose to publish in a traditional journal with a publishing agreement, you can still ask to negotiate the terms of the agreement, to allow for more control over your work.
Open Access or OA is a model for publishing works where they are freely accessible online, with no copyright or licensing restrictions. OA works are publicly accessible and shareable, and the goal of the open access model is to eliminate price and permission barriers to using and sharing information. The Public Library of Science (PLoS) defines it succinctly as “immediately and freely available to anyone, anywhere”.
There are two methods of making published works available using an open access model:
Gold OA: this is where an author makes their work available by depositing it in a freely accessible open access repository or preprint archive. This is sometimes called "self-archiving".
Green OA: this is where an author submits their work to an OA journal or publisher, which then makes it available online. Quality OA journals will still require a thorough peer review process, to ensure scientific rigour and integrity, and generally use the same standards and processes as traditionally published journals.
Hybrid journals will offer authors the option to pay for their article to be freely accessible to readers on an individual article basis, while the rest of the journal remains restricted by subscription.
For more info on publishing in an open access journal, see Choosing a Journal and Submitting a Paper.
An Institutional Repository is an online, freely accessible database of research output and publications authored by people affiliated with that institution – faculty, researchers, employees, students, etc.
AHS does not have an institutional repository for you to search or deposit your work. However, many of Alberta’s academic and policy-making institutions do. If you have a cross-appointment, your author group is cross-institutional, you are a student, or affiliated in some other way, you may be able to submit your work. Here is a select list:
There are also open access repositories that are available to all, if you don't have access to an institutional repository.
The Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications applies to anyone who has received research funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) or the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).
What does it mean? If you received partial or full funding from any of these agencies, then you are required to make your research available through an Open Access repository within 12 months of publication and/or publish your work in an open access journal where it will be freely accessible within 12 months.
For CIHR grants only, you are also required to deposit any bioinformatics, atomic or molecular coordinate data into a public database, and keep any original data sets for a minimum of 5 years following the end of the grant – whether you publish or not!
See the Tri-Agency Policy FAQ for more information.
Researchers are also required to follow the Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy. This means you must create a data management plan that describes how you will manage and archive your data. More information can be found at the research data management page of this guide.
Handy resources for ensuring you’re compliant with this and other funding requirements: