Open Access FAQ

If you have additional questions, you can email them to Mike Roy and we will post our answers on this page.

What is an open access repository?

A repository is a hosted collection of publications in digital format that features the scholarly output of the institution’s faculty. It is open access, meaning material can be found, read and downloaded by anyone with an internet connection. Repositories are indexed by search engines and databases (such as Google Scholar), which will link to the downloadable version of a deposited article.

What is the goal of an open access repository?

There are many goals, including making research available to all interested parties regardless of institutional affiliation or economic privilege, highlighting the research produced by college faculty, and making it easier for faculty to share their individual research with interested readers. It serves to facilitate the global distribution of knowledge per the Middlebury College mission.

What kinds of materials would be covered by the open access policy?

The policy would apply to scholarly articles that describe the fruits of faculty research given to the world for the sake of inquiry and knowledge without expectation of payment, including most scholarly journal articles, conference proceedings, and book chapters. It would not cover creative works, books, commissioned articles, or other publications where authors are compensated directly for their writing.

Do faculty lose their rights to their writing, or grant ownership to the College?

The policy grants Middlebury non-exclusive transferable rights to a publication, which both allows the College to deposit an article in its repository and to transfer such rights back to a faculty author. This policy actually grants authors more rights than a standard publication contract that grants a publisher exclusive non-transferable rights to articles.

Are faculty required to submit their articles in the repository?

By approving the open access policy, all faculty agree to deposit their future scholarly articles to the institutional repository. However, one may wish to opt out of the license for particular publications. In these cases, a faculty member would fill out an online waiver request, which would be automatically granted.

Will this policy require faculty to publish in open access journals?

Not at all. Faculty retain their current freedom to publish in any journal that accepts their work. This policy allows all articles to get the benefits of open access regardless of the published format, leading to increased distribution and global circulation of knowledge.

Can we go back and get permissions for already published materials?

While the policy would not require you to deposit previously published work, you are welcome to do so if you get the permission of the relevant rights holder.

While the policy would not require faculty to deposit their books into the repository, would the repository be able to store books if faculty chose to deposit them?

Yes. Any digitized or digital work may be added to the repository, as long as it has permission from the relevant rightsholder.

How will this policy impact peer review?

There would be no impact, as the standard peer review policies for whatever venue publishes the article would be followed. The repository simply hosts preprints and copies of already published works, and is not involved in the peer-review process. Peer review happens elsewhere.

Won’t such a policy make it possible for other researchers to “scoop” faculty research?

The policy only requires faculty to deposit their published works, so the ideas would already be public and tied to a researcher. If your research describes a patentable discovery, you may wish to secure a patent before publishing or depositing.

What is an embargo, and how does it work?

An embargo is a period of time following publication in which a work is made available exclusively to paying customers. This can be negotiated with the publisher, although many do not require any embargo periods. The default is for no embargo period.

How do multi-author works work?

Multi-authored works are expected to be deposited if one of the authors is a Middlebury faculty member. If other authors object, you can submit a waiver to opt out for that article.

Would materials created for edited volumes be covered by this policy?

The policy would apply to articles for edited volumes that do not offer royalties for authors

Are there precedents for such policies at other institutions?

More than 50 American colleges and universities have adopted similar policies, including major research universities Harvard, MIT, Columbia, Duke, and Emory, and peer liberal arts colleges Amherst, Wellesley, Oberlin, and Bryn Mawr.

To make the policy legal, do you have to collect actual signatures from faculty, or is it enough to simply have the language in the handbook?

Individually signed affirmation of the policy carry greater legal weight and offer more protection to the College.

What happens when a faculty member leaves the institution?

Work already in the repository will remain so unless you request its withdrawal. Work published after you leave the institution is no longer under the scope of the policy.

What version of an article should I submit to the repository?

The policy reserves for the College the right to host the author approved manuscript, which is the copy that has been accepted by editorial review but not yet copyedited and typeset by the publisher. However, the published version should also be deposited if the author has the right to do so or has permission from the publisher.

What if the author already deposits an article in another repository, such as PubMed?

We would like copies of all scholarly articles to be able to highlight the breadth and quality of Middlebury faculty research; multiple deposits also increase the chance of your article being found by readers, and increase the chances of long-term preservation

If you have an article in a repository, how does it get cited? How do you count total citations if citations are split between the published version and the version in the repository?

Citations can link to the repository copy similarly to any online database, and the deposited version will include all of the citation information for the original publication, which will remain the official citation information. Research suggests that open access articles have higher citation rates. The total citation count of an article may vary depending on who is calculating them. For example, Google Scholar tries to collapse citation counts for different versions of a work, whereas other tools may treat different versions separately.

Can faculty deposit previously unpublished work or papers that have not been peer reviewed in the repository?

Definitely. The repository can include any faculty work that they have the right to republish, whether otherwise published or not. The repository metadata will indicate whether the article has been published, peer reviewed, presented, or otherwise contextualized. Some fields actually encourage pre-publication deposits in disciplinary archives, and Middlebury’s repository can be used this way as well.

How will articles be submitted to the institutional repository?

The repository would have a self-service function that would allow for faculty to upload materials directly to the repository. We will also likely provide as a service the ability for faculty to email their articles to a librarian, who would then upload the article to the repository.

How do institutional repositories affect the traditional publishing model?

It already is the norm at Harvard, MIT, and many other research universities. There has been no push-back from journal publishers.

Why are you proposing that this be opt out, and how will it be enforced?


The model proposed here, where articles are put in the repository unless a faculty member requests a waiver, underscores that the faculty embrace the spirit and intent of Open Access by making accessibility and democratized scholarship the default. Enforcement is not a goal of the policy; the policy explicitly states that obtaining waivers or failing to submit an article will have no effect on faculty reviews or salary increases.

How do waivers work?

Waivers can be requested on a per-article basis through an online form. Waivers will be given automatically and without question.  You can request a waiver at any time.

Can I withdraw something if I change my mind?


Yes. You can at any time decide to make your article unavailable by requesting a waiver.

Will the repository also be a place to store materials other than articles?

While the proposed Open Access Policy applies to articles published by Middlebury faculty, we will design the repository so that it can contain a wide array of materials. We will make it clear through the design of the repository which of the materials are peer-reviewed.

Will having a repository change the process of applying for publication funds?


No. The process for applying for reprints and subvention funds will remain the same.

How do we handle articles that contain materials that contain copyright materials that can’t be made available via open access?

For articles that contain copyrighted materials (e.g. images), you will likely need to seek permission from the copyright holder to include those materials in the version of the article that you place in the repository, unless you feel that it can be used under the fair use exemption.

How would open access repository impact funds available for publishing in open access journals?


The existence of a repository does not affect funds available for publishing in open access journals in any way.

How will we evaluate the success of this and measure its impact?


We will keep track of downloads and citations for articles in the repository. Many people at other     institutions with repositories appreciate being able to see download statistics for their articles.