Legal aspects

Primary publication

If you publish an original work in the Research Collection (external link), the copyright and right of use for the work published remains with the author. This means that no legal obstacles stand in the way of a future publication of your research results elsewhere (such as with a commercial publisher).

During the Research Collection's submission process, you have also the option to grant a Creative Commons license (external link) and determine to which extent your work may be re-used by third parties.


If you would like to re-publish ("self-archive") a journal article or another paper via the "Green Road" of open access in the Research Collection, you need to the observe the copyright policies of the original publisher.

Article version

Many publishing houses permit the publication of either preprints or postprints (also called Author's Accepted Manuscript, short AAM) of published articles in an institutional repository such as the Research Collection.

A preprint is the manuscript version of an article as submitted to the publisher, e.g. before peer review.

A postprint is the accepted manuscript after the peer review process. The postprint...

  • is the final author's manuscript accepted by the publisher for publication
  • contains all the revisions made in the course of the peer review process
  • is equivalent to the published version in terms of content
  • is designed by the author
  • does not have a publisher layout or contain any publisher logos

Publishing houses rarely allow the use of the publisher PDF for publication in a repository.


Some publishing houses only permit the publication of articles in repositories after a so-called embargo from the first publication date. This can vary from 2 to 36 months.

You can nevertheless submit your article at any time to the Research Collection. When uploading the file, indicate the embargo end date - your file will then be automatically made available to external users on this day while only metadata will be visible immediately.

Where to look up publisher copyright policies?

The SHERPA/RoMEO database (external link) provides information on self-archiving guidelines of many scholarly journals and publishers.

Please consider however, that in case of doubt only those regulations actually stipulated in your publishing contract (Copyright Transfer Agreement, Licence to Publish) are legally binding.

In the absence of a publishing contract, the publisher's general terms and conditions apply.

Securing authors' rights

Ideally, you should always make sure whether and to which extent self-archiving in an institutional repository is permitted before signing a publishing contract.

If your publisher does not allow self-archiving, you can try to negotiate the right to self-archive, for example by adding and having the publisher sign an author addendum to the publishing contract (see eg. SPARC Author's Addendum (external link) (pdf, 129 kB)).

Moreover, you can also obtain the publisher's consent to making a work accessible via the Research Collection retrospectively.

Research Collection Terms of Use

Authors who publish their works in the Research Collection agree to the regulations laid down in the platform's Terms of Use. Furthermore, when uploading your work you will be prompted to grant the ETH Library permission to use your work under the Terms for submitting and using a work (external link).