ARC Open Access Policy – General information

This advice for ARC’s Open Access policy has been developed in collaboration with the Australian Research Council (ARC), Australian Open Access Support Group (AOASG) and the Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL). This advice should be used in conjunction with your university open access supported policies. Details about how to comply with the policy are on another page.

The ARC Open Access Policy was updated on April 21 2015. The updated Policy now specifies that publication metadata should include the ARC Project ID and list the ARC as the funding source, as well as other relevant information. Any future Funding Rules and Funding Agreements will include this requirement.

A:  General Information / Policy background

A1: What is open access?

Open access (OA) is, simply, the idea that research articles should be freely, immediately and permanently available online to anyone, rather than locked away in subscription journals as many currently are.

There are primarily two ways in which OA can be achieved.

  1. Green Open Access is where a research article, which has been accepted for publication in a scholarly journal, is freely available online to readers because the author has uploaded a full-text version of the article to an institutional repository (e.g. QUT ePrints) or subject repository (e.g. PubMedCentral) and this version can be accessed free of charge.
  2. Gold Open Access is where the publisher of a scholarly journal provides free online access to the full content of the journal (e.g. PLOS). Business models for this form of OA vary.  In some cases, the publisher charges the author (or the author’s institution) an article processing fee.  In other cases, the publishing costs are covered by direct and indirect subsidies from institutions and scholarly societies.  A version of Gold Open Access is ‘Hybrid Open Access’, where authors of articles published in subscription journals have the option of paying an article processing fee for the right to place their article in open access.

A2: What are the benefits of depositing an open access copy?

The ARC encourages the widest possible dissemination of the research supported by ARC funding. When there is an open access copy of a publication arising from an ARC-funded project, the research results are more visible and more accessible.  This makes it easier for other researchers to access and advance areas of research.  The general public can also access these resources as part of public accountability.  The availability of the copies of research arising from ARC research projects also ensures that the ARC can report on publications arising from ARC research projects that are accessible in the public domain.

A3: Is compliance with the ARC open access policy a condition of the ARC grant?

Yes. All recipients of ARC grants must comply with the ARC open access policy. The ARC requires that any publications arising from an ARC supported research project must be deposited into an open access institutional repository within a twelve (12) month period from the date of publication. The policy has been incorporated into all new Funding Rules and Agreements released after 1 January 2013.

B: Scope of the Policy

B1. My publication is based on research only partially funded by ARC. Is the paper required to be submitted?

Yes.  The ARC open access policy applies to all ARC funded research from 2013 grants onwards, including research partially funded by the ARC.

B2: Does the ARC open access policy apply to all publications?

The ARC policy applies to all publications arising from funded research – journal articles, conference papers, books and book chapters.  The ARC funding rules strongly encourage researchers to consider depositing their research data arising from a research grant into an appropriate subject and/or institutional repository.

C:  Copyright issues

C1: What are the copyright implications?

In most cases, authors initially own copyright in their work.  However, different universities have varying arrangements in place regarding ownership of IP, and some own the copyright on scholarly articles produced by staff during the course of their employment at the university.  You should ascertain and familiarise yourself with copyright ownership arrangements at your institution in the first instance.

Copyright can be assigned through agreements with publishers for fixed purposes or completely signed over to a publisher.  Open access journals generally allow authors to retain copyright.  Consequently, as copyright is owned by the authors, there is no problem complying with the ARC requirement that a peer-reviewed version of the work be deposited to an institutional repository.

Subscription-based journals generally ask authors to sign a publication agreement which transfers the copyright in the work to the publisher for a specified purpose or gives the publisher an ‘exclusive’ right to publish the work.  The publication agreement will specify which (if any) rights are retained by authors.  This may, or may not include the right to deposit a specific version of the paper to an institutional repository. This is usually not the published version.  Subscription journal publishers generally charge a fee for the right to disseminate an open access copy of the published version.

Before signing any publication agreement, authors should always read the document to check that the terms are suitable. Publishing terms should be checked before the article is submitted for peer review.  This information is often available via the journal website.  Alternatively, consult the free SHERPA/RoMEO database of publisher policies

Transferring copyright doesn’t have to be all or nothing.  The law allows authors to transfer copyright to a publisher while holding back some rights.  Where a copyright transfer agreement does not specify that authors retain the rights needed to comply with the ARC Policy, it may be possible to amend the terms by attaching an addendum which stipulates the rights the authors wish to retain.

If the publisher refuses to amend the terms, then the authors may wish to consider publishing in a journal of equal status and suitability which allows open access, if one exists.  You can find the publishing terms of a given journal by consulting the SHERPA/RoMEO database.

Your library may be able to provide or refer you to a suitable publication agreement addendum (a legal instrument which modifies the terms of any agreement or contract to which it is attached) or information about other journals in your discipline which allow open access.

If you have explored all options and are still unable to disseminate an open access copy of the article within 12 months, include an explanation in the ARC Final Report for the relevant grant.

C2: Do I need to retain copyright?

You should ascertain, and familiarise yourself with copyright ownership arrangements at your institution in the first instance.

It is important to read the publication agreement with great care.  Ensure the agreement is balanced and has a clear statement about the rights retained by authors.  An example of such a statement would be:

As an author you (or your employer or institution) may do the following:

  • Make copies (print or electronic) of the article for your own personal use, including for your own classroom teaching use;
  • Make copies and distribute such copies (including through e-mail) of the article to known research colleagues, for the personal use by such colleagues (but not for commercial purposes as described below);
  • Post a revised personal version of the final text (including illustrations and tables) of the article (to reflect changes made in the peer review and editing process) on your personal or your institutional website or server, with a link (through the relevant DOI) to the article as-published, provided that such postings are not for commercial purposes.  Source:

Note: Retaining copyright may not provide authors with the rights needed to comply with the ARC Policy if the agreement grants the publisher an ‘exclusive’ right to publish the work.

Published 24 June 2014, updated 27 April 2015
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed by AOASG under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.