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Library explains what University’s new Open Access Policy requires of faculty and staff

On April 23, 2019, Penn State University Faculty Senate voted to endorse the Open Access Policy Recommendations. This was subsequently approved and published at the end of last year as University Policy AC02 – Open Access to Scholarly Articles, which went into effect Jan. 1, 2020.

The purpose of this policy is to make Penn State research available to the Commonwealth and around the world.

High-priced paywalls (subscriptions, licensing, etc.) have made access to scholarship impossible to many.

A logo for Open Access Week includes the words Open Access as well as a stylized image of an open padlock.This effort is designed to make Penn State scholarship more widely discoverable, increase its impact, and in turn provide more visibility to researchers as well as increase opportunities for broader collaborations.

The Penn State open access policy covers all scholarly articles authored or co-authored by Penn State faculty and staff and requires that any accepted manuscript be deposited in an open repository no later than date of publication. (Note that the deposited manuscript is permitted to be protected by an “embargo” and not made publicly viewable until a later date if stipulated by the publisher.)

The repository may be a disciplinary platform, such as Pubmed Central, or Penn State’s Scholarsphere.

If a manuscript is submitted to a repository as the result of a public access requirement such as an NIH mandate, it is automatically compliant with the Penn State policy. This gives the university a license to openly disseminate the scholarly work, but copyright is retained by the author(s) or the publisher.

An author does not need to pay an expensive article processing charge in order to comply with this policy. However, at the time of manuscript submission, the copyright agreement must be carefully reviewed to ensure that the posting of the required version of the manuscript is permitted.

If in doubt, a University-prepared “author’s addendum” may be used to amend the publisher’s standard document. Author addendum information is available here.

Also, a request for waiver is available when necessary; authors are not expected to forfeit an opportunity to publish as a result of this policy.

Additional guidance has been prepared by staff at University Libraries, and can be found at

Harrell Health Sciences Library is available to give presentations on this new policy for departments, with an opportunity for further discussion. To take advantage of this service, email Esther Dell at or the departmental liaison librarian.

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