Frequently Asked Questions

What is Smith’s faculty open access policy?

The Smith College faculty approved an open access policy on April 22, 2015 which permits the college to disseminate digital copies of faculty scholarly articles published after that date. The policy reads:

Subject to the Faculty Member’s right to opt out of this policy, upon completion of the final manuscript of a scholarly article, the Faculty member grants Smith College permission to make the article available to scholars and the public under the Creative Commons CC BY License, which is the most permissive of the Creative Commons licenses.

What are my rights and responsibilities under the open access policy?

Under the policy, faculty grant Smith College the right to distribute their scholarly articles under a Creative Commons CC BY license. A Creative Commons license is an extension of copyright that permits the public to read, share, and modify a creative work under certain conditions, while preserving the author’s ownership of that work.

The CC BY license allows the user of the article to copy and redistribute the material as well as adapt it for any purpose as long as proper credit is given and the user indicates if changes were made. Under the Smith open access policy, upon written request faculty may instead choose the more restrictive CC BY-NC-ND license, which allows the user to share the material with proper credit, but prohibits both commercial uses and the distribution of derivative works.

The policy applies to all faculty articles published after April 22, 2015. Faculty may choose to opt out of the policy at any point, either for a particular article or for all future publications.

How do I comply with the policy?

In order to comply with the policy, faculty are encouraged to provide the Smith College Libraries with a copy of each article published after April 22, 2015. A mechanism for submitting articles to the Libraries is currently under development. In the meantime, you are welcome to submit articles to the library staff via email. Once articles are submitted, the Libraries will make them available through the ScholarWorks open access repository.

Does the open access policy apply to staff?

No, the college’s open access policy does not apply to staff. Staff members are encouraged to deposit their publications in ScholarWorks, but must arrange with their publishers to ensure that they retain the sufficient rights to do so. Some publishers grant these rights automatically as part of their author agreements, while others never grant them under any circumstances. For assistance, please contact

What if the publisher’s agreement requires me to transfer all rights to the publisher? Am I still able to deposit in ScholarWorks?

Because Smith’s open access policy operates automatically to give Smith a license to any scholarly articles faculty members complete after its adoption, Smith’s license predates this transfer of copyright to a publisher. Therefore, even if the article’s copyright is held by the publisher, that copyright is subject to Smith’s pre-existing license. Smith has informed major publishers of our policy, a step that provides protection for you in case you are asked to sign an incompatible agreement with a publisher.

Many publishers now grant authors the right to deposit in institutional repositories as part of their standard author agreements. If the publisher’s agreement does not provide this language and you are uncomfortable signing an agreement that is incompatible with depositing in ScholarWorks, you may ask the publisher to amend the agreement with an addendum. You do not need to take this step because the Smith open access policy predates your agreement with the publisher, but you may choose to do so. If the publisher does not accept the amendment, contact us for advice. You may always choose to opt out of the open access policy for a particular article.

Note that some publishers are explicit that they will not accept a prior license based on an open access policy. In cases such as these, you may also choose to opt out of the policy.

What if the publisher’s agreement has language that requires an embargo period before my article can be placed in an open access repository?

Some publishing agreements allow deposit in an open access repository, but only after a specified embargo period. As in the previous question, Smith’s open access policy allows you to deposit in ScholarWorks immediately, but you may choose to request that your publisher amend the author agreement to make this clear.

Which version of my article should I submit?

According to the policy, you should submit the article in final manuscript form--that is, the author’s manuscript with any changes made as a result of the peer-review process, but prior to the publisher’s copy-editing or formatting.

What if the publisher wants to charge me a fee to make my article open access?

It depends on the situation. Some journals are entirely open access and sustained by article fees paid by authors rather than subscription fees paid by libraries; some of these are legitimate but others are predatory. If you choose to publish in one of these journals, you will need to pay the fees or seek support to pay them. This model is called “gold" open access, and is not affected by our open access policy. Contact the library for advice if you have any questions about a particular journal.

Some subscription-based journals offer a “hybrid" open access option, meaning the author can pay a fee to convert his or her article to open access. We do not recommend paying these “hybrid" journal fees. The license granted by Smith’s open access policy allows you to make your article open access through Smith ScholarWorks without paying these fees. In addition, these fees do not reduce the price that Smith or other institutions pay to subscribe to the journal in question.

How do I opt out of the open access policy?

According to the policy, faculty may apply in writing to the provost/dean of faculty to request that the policy be waived for individual articles or for the faculty member’s work as a whole. See the policy for more details. The Libraries are developing a simple form faculty can use to opt out of the policy as a whole, or for individual articles.

What if the work has multiple authors, including authors from other institutions?

The Smith open access policy applies to all faculty articles, including those that are co-authored. Under copyright law, each author has a right to grant nonexclusive licenses--the kind of license faculty grant to the college automatically under the Smith open access policy. As a matter of collegiality, however, we recommend that Smith faculty consult with their co-authors and arrange for their permission before submitting to ScholarWorks. A Smith faculty member may always choose to opt out of the policy for a given article in order to accommodate the preferences of a co-author.

Please note, however, that for works not covered under the open access policy, you should only deposit a work if you are certain that you have permission from all copyright holders to place the work in the repository.

Who may submit items to ScholarWorks? What kinds of works may be submitted?

Any member of the Smith community may submit an item to ScholarWorks, as long as they are the original author of the item and have retained sufficient rights to deposit the work in the repository. The open access policy guarantees sufficient rights for scholarly articles authored by members of the faculty and published after April 22, 2015. While ScholarWorks functions primarily as a repository for peer-reviewed, scholarly articles, it supports many of other kinds of works as well, including books, presentations, and data sets.

How do I know if I have retained sufficient rights to deposit my work in the repository?

For faculty-authored scholarly articles published after April 22, 2015, the open access policy applies (see above for details).

For all other works, including faculty articles published before April 22, 2015, you will need to check your publication agreement. If you have signed a copyright agreement with a publisher that assigns your copyright exclusively to the publisher, then you do not have any rights except those that the publisher gives you. As part of such agreements, however, publishers sometimes explicitly permit authors to deposit articles in institutional repositories, so long as they follow stipulated guidelines.

If you have ceded your rights to a publisher and your author agreement does not explicitly allow you to deposit your work in Scholarworks, you may still be able to deposit under one of the following circumstances:

  • The publisher has a policy allowing you to do so. Many major publishers include clear authors’ rights statements on their websites, and many allow their authors to deposit a pre-print version of a work in a repository, sometimes after a short embargo period. The SHERPA/RoMEO site compiles many major publishers’ policies.
  • You request and receive the publisher’s permission to do so. You should make a written request even if you believe the publisher’s policy has changed since you signed your original author’s agreement. You should document this process by printing both your initial request and the publisher’s response. If the publisher responds with a link to their posted author rights or similar policy, it is wise to print that policy as well and to keep these materials together in a secure place.
  • Your work is subject to the open access policies of a government or private funder. Many funders now require that grantees make the results of funded research available via open access channels within a specified period of time.

Remember that you are the copyright owner of any work that you author, unless and until you sign away your copyright to someone else. If you have any questions, please contact the library for assistance.

How do I submit a work to ScholarWorks?

Authors can submit work by contacting the Smith ScholarWorks staff for assistance.

What file formats are accepted?

Please submit articles in PDF format whenever possible. PDFs offer a reasonable assurance of long-term sustainability and access. Other file formats are accepted but may not prove to be as stable over time.

What if the work contains images or other third-party content for which I was required to obtain permission prior to the publication of the work?

If you sought permission to incorporate images, photographs, graphs, extended quotations, or other third-party material in your scholarly article or other original work, you should review whether that permission covers publication in an open access repository. If in doubt, please consult with the Libraries.

What is an embargo period, and how do I request one?

A submitter may set an embargo period during which their submission is saved in the repository but not available for public view. The submission form will include an option to request an embargo.

May I delete or change an item already submitted?

Because the repository is meant for scholarly work that is as close as possible to its final or published form, we prefer not to delete or change items once they are deposited in ScholarWorks. Scholars should only deposit in ScholarWorks the version to which they intend to provide permanent open access.

How will items submitted to ScholarWorks be preserved and maintained over time?

We are committed to the long-term preservation of items added to the ScholarWorks repository. However since permanent access is not a guarantee with any technology, we urge scholars to keep personal copies of their files in both print and digital format.

Who can access my scholarship in ScholarWorks, and what can they do with it?

ScholarWorks is an open access repository, meaning that anyone can search, view, and download content. Users must comply with the provisions of the Creative Commons CC BY license if they intend to reuse your work. This license allows any user to copy and redistribute the material as well as adapt it for any purpose, as long as they give proper credit and indicate if changes were made. Under the Smith open access policy, upon written request faculty may alternatively opt for the more restrictive CC BY-NC-ND license which allows the user to share the material with proper credit, but prohibits both commercial uses and the distribution of derivative works.