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University Library Zurich

Publishing Contract and Author Rights

Author Rights and Self-archiving

If researchers wish to make their scientific work publicly available, they can either do so in an open access publication venue (open access journal or open access book publisher) or self-archive their publication. For self-archiving, authors publish their manuscript in a conventional publication venue and at the same time deposit the accepted manuscript or the already published version on a recognized repository (such as ZORA at UZH). If researchers want to self-archive their publications, they need the appropriate rights.

Publishing contract

When publishing, authors and publishers regulate the further use of the scientific work in a publishing agreement. In this contract, authors grant certain rights of use to the publisher so that the latter can reproduce and process the work. Researchers can choose whether they want to grant simple/non-exclusive or exclusive rights of use to the publisher. A simple right of use allows the work to be used in the approved manner, without excluding use by the authors themselves or by third parties. If researchers grant exclusive rights to their work, the publisher can use it to the exclusion of all other people.

In most cases publishers allow self-archiving but authors must abide by the terms of the agreement, such as an embargo period or a predefined license.

Different regulations among publishers

Depending on the publisher or journal, the rights retained by authors may be more extensive or more limited. In the case of journals, many publishers have decided to explicitly allow OA archiving in an institutional repository such as ZORA.

The requirements for self-archiving can be found either in the publisher's contract or on the Sherpa/Romeo database.

Sherpa/Romeo database

The Journal Database of the UB Zurich contains ZORA-specific regulations of publishers.

Journal Database

Retain Essential Author Rights

UZH is committed to an transparent research culture based on its Open Science Policy. This also includes at a minimum that researchers ensure that they retain the right to self-archive, even when publishing in conventional publication venues. In practice, there are three ways to retain rights as an author:

1. Adapt the publishing contract

In consultation with the publisher, adjustments can be made to the contract. For example, the accepted manuscript, which is identical in content to the published version but does not yet have the publisher's layout, can be explicitly excluded from the contract terms. Alternatively, certain expressions requiring the transfer of exclusive rights to the publisher can be deleted.

To assist you, we offer a use case with some recommendations on how to proceed in publishing negotiations (PDF, 181 KB).

2. Attach an Open Access Addendum

Alternatively, add an addendum to the contract that regulates the deposit of the publication in the repository (Open Access Addendum). The addition must be countersigned by the publisher. You can generate an addendum online.

3. Apply the Rights Retention Strategy of the SNSF

Any project proposals submitted after 1 January, 2023 will have to follow the new Open Access regulations of the Swiss National Science Foundation: Among other things, authors will now be required to publish the accepted manuscript version without a embario period. The SNSF supports researchers in this with the Rights Retention Strategy. This entails that authors inform the publisher upon submission of their manuscript that they retain the rights to the accepted manuscript version and will publish it under a CC-BY license without an embargo period.

Retrospective Agreement to Self-Archiving

For works that have already been published, authors can subsequently obtain the publisher’s consent to deposit the publication in ZORA.

Sample letter and instructions (DOCX, 19 KB)

When submitting to ZORA, this information about the publishing agreement must be provided so that the ZORA editorial team can include it. Additionally, inform yourself about your rights for self-archiving (green open access) in the Sherpa/Romeo database.

Publishing Without a Publishing Contract

If no other publishing agreements have been made with the publisher for a publication, the legal provisions of the Swiss Code of Obligations apply to authors domiciled in Switzerland when depositing in ZORA:

Scientific articles, as far as they deal with a topic in depth, e.g. journal articles or book contributions, may be deposited openly in a repository by the author three months after their appearance in print.
(Art. 382 Abs. 3 OR)
News-related reports, e.g. newspaper articles, may be openly deposited in a repository by the author at any time.
(Art. 382 Abs. 2 OR)
Other works such as monographs or textbooks may not be openly deposited in a repository by the author in competition with the publisher as long as the edition is not out of print. (Art. 382 Abs. 1 OR)
Versions that cannot be cited accurately and therefore do not represent real competition are permitted for publication: e.g. files without original page numbers in disciplines in which citations are made to the exact page.


In these cases, an author version without publisher logos and publisher page numbers (accepted manuscript) is certainly permitted as the deposited publication. The version published by the publisher (publisher’s PDF) may only be used without trademarked publisher’s logos.

Weiterführende Informationen

Questions about Author Rights?

Self-Archiving Rights