FAQs About UNC’s Open Access Policy


General Questions About the Policy

Opt-outs, waivers, and embargos

For UNC students and staff

Help and more information


General questions about the policy

Who benefits from the open access policy?

Making the results of faculty research freely available online increases the visibility of scholarship not only to academics at elite institutions such as UNC but also to high school and community college students, scholars in the developing world and at small institutions, alumni, independent scholars, writers, journalists, researchers in private industry, policy makers, health care and legal professionals, and others.

Do other universities have similar open access policies?

Yes, many universities, both in the U.S. and other countries, such as Harvard, the University of California system, Duke, and Princeton, have adopted campus open access policies.

When I submit an article, where does it go?

UNC’s open access repository is the Carolina Digital Repository (CDR). The CDR provides long ­term access and safekeeping for scholarly works, datasets, research materials, records, and audiovisual materials produced by the UNC­-Chapel Hill community. Deposit in the CDR ensures that your work is being preserved and is accessible and searchable on its website and indexed in search engines.

When I submit an article, what is the agreement I’m making?

When you deposit material in the CDR, you assent to its Non-Exclusive Deposit Agreement.  UNC’s Open Access Policy allows faculty to make this agreement.  The agreement allows UNC to make your work accessible and to preserve it.

How will other scholars find my article in the CDR?

Unless it is embargoed, material in the CDR is indexed by and searchable from standard Internet search engines.  The CDR also has its own search interface, and articles that are submitted to the repository appear in a collection called “UNC Scholarly Publications.”

My article is already available in an open access repository (e.g. PubMed Central, arXiv, SSRN) or in an open access journal. Do I need to deposit it with UNC as well?

If your article is already publicly available because you posted it to a preprint repository, a federal repository (e.g. PubMedCentral) or it is already available for free on the publisher’s website, you won’t be required to deposit again in the CDR

I’ve deposited my article with ResearchGate, Academia.edu, or some similar site.  Have I complied with UNC’s Open Access Policy?

No.  These sites are not open, and users must register before they can search for articles.  They are also commercial and have a different sense of their role and purpose than institutional and subject-specific repositories.  For more information, see “A social networking site is not an open access repository.”

What version of the article should I submit?

Typically, what is submitted will be the author’s final manuscript, post peer ­review, but prior to the inclusion of any specific formatting created by the publisher. Some publishers may allow posting of some other version of the article.

I’ve seen a scheme that uses colors to explain publishers’ open access policies, and I’m having a hard time understanding what it means.  Help!

The SHERPA/RoMEO site is a useful place to learn about journals’ open access policies, but the color scheme they use can be hard to follow.  We’ve created a guide that explains this terminology.

What kinds of scholarship are covered under the policy?

The policy applies to “scholarly articles.” The definition of scholarly articles varies among the different disciplines and is left to the discretion of each faculty member. The policy is not intended to cover classroom materials or books for profit.

May I upload supplementary material that goes with my article?

Yes!  We encourage you to include supplementary material, such as additional figures, datasets, or video, with your submission.  If you have large files over 500 MB, contact us.

Does the policy apply to articles written before the policy was implemented?

No, articles written prior to the policy are not covered under the policy. However, CDR welcomes submissions of works written prior provided the submission does not violate publisher policy.

I’ve created scholarly material other than journal articles.  May I deposit it in the CDR?

Yes, absolutely.  The CDR will handle and preserve a wide variety of formats and file types.

May a research assistant or administrative assistant deposit articles on my behalf?

Yes.  The person who is submitting the article should use his or her own onyen to log in to the submission page.  After that, the submission process is set up to allow either self-submission or the use of a delegate for submission.

I made a typographical error or other mistake during the submission process.  How can I fix it?

At this time, only CDR staff can edit submissions.  Contact us for help.

How can I add a DOI (digital object identifier) to my submission.

Currently, only CDR staff can add a DOI.   Contact us for help with this step.

Is financial support available if faculty or students wish to publish in an open access journal that charges a fee for publication of articles?

Because of budget constraints, the university no longer has a fund to support article-processing charges (APCs). UNC’s Open Access Policy focuses on rights retention and is silent on the matter of whether and how the University should subsidize APCs. The CDR is provided as a free service of the University. Deposit in the CDR does not require you to pay publication fees, nor does it exempt you from any such fees that are levied.

Opt-outs, waivers, and embargos

What if a journal publisher refuses to publish my article because of the prior permission given to UNC under the policy?

Faculty have the freedom to opt out of the Open Access Policy for any individual scholarly article.  To opt out, request a waiver from the university.

How does a waiver work?

Under UNC’s Open Access Policy, faculty give the university a non-exclusive license to make scholarly articles openly available.  When a faculty member requests a waiver, UNC gives up that right.  We grant waivers whenever they are requested and send email confirmation to the faculty member who made the request.

Will I be able to embargo access to my article?

Yes, the CDR’s submission process allows authors to choose an embargo period.

For UNC students and staff

I’m a student or a staff member at UNC.  Does the Open Access Policy apply to me?

The policy only covers faculty, so UNC students and staff members are not obliged to comply with the policy, unless a faculty member is a co-author.  Nevertheless, students and staff are allowed and encouraged to deposit their scholarly work, if their publication agreements allow it.

As a post-doc, do I need to comply with the policy?

The policy does not apply to post-docs, unless they co-author an article with a faculty member. However, post-docs are encouraged to deposit articles if they wish and if they have retained the rights to do so.

Help and more information

What resources are available to me to answer my questions about the policy or deal with disputes with publishers?

The UNC Scholarly Communications Office is available to assist should questions about the policy or disputes with publishers arise.  Contact Anne Gilliland at agilliland@unc.edu or call her at 919.843.3256.

Where can I get help if I have problems with the submissions process?

The Carolina Digital Repository staff will assist you with your questions about the submissions process.  You can reach them at cdr@unc.edu.  You may also check out our help files on Depositing Material with the Open Access Form or other FAQs.