Many publishers are slowly loosening restrictions on authors who wish to repost their work. A large number now allow an author or an author’s employer to post the pre-print or post-print on the web with certain restrictions (a publisher’s statement, an embargo, etc.). This is great news for authors and Institutional Repositories alike, but what we have found is that many authors don’t understand the differences between the various iterations of their work. Below is a short explanation:
Pre-Print: The pre-print version of a publication generally refers to the first draft. This is the version before any peer-review has been performed, and well before the publisher applies any formatting.
Post-Print: The post-print often refers to the version of a work after peer-review has been done and edits have been made, but before the publisher applies branding and formatting. It may be called the final author’s version, the accepted version, or some iteration thereof.
Publisher’s Version: Publisher’s version is the version of the work that is actually published. It generally features the publisher’s branding and formatting, and has page numbers, copyright statements, and anything else the author did not apply in their version.
Many publishers, including well-known names such as Springer, Elsevier, and Wiley, allow pre-prints and post-prints to be added to an author’s Institutional Repository. Unfortunately, many authors do not save their final version before publication, so the opportunity to distribute material to scholars world-wide is missed. We urge faculty to hold on to all versions of their work.
It may be difficult to find the specific copyright parameters you are expected to follow via the publisher’s website. A helpful tool, SHERPA/RoMEO, keeps a current database of most publisher policies, and links you directly to the publisher’s copyright page. SHERPA/RoMEO is incredibly helpful, but it is sometimes hard to keep-up-to-date. I encourage you to use SHERA/RoMEO as starting point, but not as the final word.
As always, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to email Digital Services. We are happy to help!