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Publishing and Scholarly Communications: Manuscripts Explained

Manuscript Versioning and Rights

Publishing research results can be a complicated process, and it is important to know your rights as an author; especially in regards to your manuscript. The illustration below shows how a manuscript progresses throughout the publishing process. At each stage throughout the process a new version of the manuscript is created. Who retains "ownership" of the version is determined by the Author's Rights laid out in the Copyright Transfer Agreement with the publisher: all versions created prior to signing this agreement are owned by the author and those created after (such as proofs and the final published version) are owned by the publisher. 

Image derived from Arthur Smith (2018)

Open Access Article (Example #1)

This document is a publisher's version, sometimes referred to as the version of record (or VOR). This particular journal, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (published by EGU) is an Open Access (OA) journal and therefore permits the use of the publisher's version in the NOAA IR. You can see that this item is OA by looking at the copyright statement (presented at the top of the document) listing the "Author(s)" as the copyright holder, followed by the CC Attribution statement and logo (see circled portion) indicating that this article was published under a Creative Commons license.

Open Access Article (Example #2)

In this example (and article published by Elsevier) of an open access publication, the notice of copyright is located at the bottom of the page on the title page of the article. Again, the copyright statement lists the holder as the "Author(s)" and goes on to state: "This is an open access article under the CC-BY=NC-ND license". This means that this article was published under a Creative Commons License and therefore it is OA. In this instance, the author(s) paid and APC (article processing charge) to make the article open access under this license. 

Public Domain Statement

This is a PUBLIC DOMAIN statement (from AGU--but other publishers use similar wording) notifying readers that this particular article is in the public domain and is openly accessible. This is because the authors of this article are all federal employees, and therefore, do not have any copyright to hold and thus cannot transfer to the publisher. In these instances, the publisher's version of the article can be archived.

Publisher Copyright Statement (Example #1: Elsevier)

Here you can see a standard copyright statement indicating the rights for the article are held by the publisher; in this instance it is Elsevier. These statements can be found in multiple places on the document but most often are located along the bottom, in the footer, frequently accompanied by the publishing history (submission, acceptance, and online dates). As a general rule, if this type of statement is present, the publisher's version cannot be archived in a repository, but this may depend on the publisher and the author's agreement.

*See Special Cases box to the right. 

This is an example of an ACCEPTED MANUSCRIPT; defined as a manuscript draft after it has been peer reviewed but does not have publisher added content like pagination and logos.

The document has gone through the review process and the publisher and the author(s) have made all requested edits.

The author still holds all rights to this version of the manuscript and is the version that should be retained and sent to the NOAA IR for archiving.

Note how the line numbers still appear in the document and it is primarily just text.


This is an example of a GALLEY PROOF (or in this particular instance, the publisher refers to them an PRE-PROOFS).

This version of the manuscript is created AFTER the accepted manuscript, but before the final publisher version.

It is provided to authors as a final check for revisions and edits prior to final publication. 

Publishers do not allow this version of the article to be archived. 

When you see VERSION OF RECORD (VOR), it refers to the authoritative version of an article; usually this is the PUBLISHER'S VERSION of a publication. 

This is the final version of a manuscript, after all edits and typesetting, that is posted on the publisher's website.

Depending on copyright permissions this version can sometimes be archived in repositories.

Note the presence of the publisher and journal branding and formatting. 

Special Cases

The following publisher's allow the use of the final publisher's version (VOR) within the NOAA IR regardless of OA status: 

For more information, please reference our Submission Decision Tree. 

Additional Resources

Manuscript detectives – submitted, accepted or published? (2018, Arthur Smith). Details types of manuscripts, how to distinguish them, and more. 

What Is An Accepted Manuscript?  (2015, Defines accepted manuscripts.