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Author Rights

This guide is intended to inform University of Saskatchewan researchers on the topics of author rights (copyright) and publication agreements.


Usually publishers will delineate different rights for different versions of your article.

Below are a list of commonly-used terms and explanations for these terms and an example


  • Also known as: Author’s original, Submitted version
  • Definition: The draft of an academic article and/or the initial submission to a journal. This may include initial and successive drafts of articles or working papers.


  • Also known as: Accepted version, Author's accepted manuscript (AAM)
  • Definition: The final version of an academic article at the point at which it has been accepted for publication. This is after it has been peer-reviewed and revised into its final form by the author MINUS any publisher enhancements (e.g. layout, typesetting, copy-editing etc.).
  • Note: Usually this is not provided by the publisher. Authors must save this draft themselves.
    • Tip: Use this guide to help you locate the post-print (accepted manuscript) in publisher systems. 

Publisher’s final version

  • Also known as: Publisher’s PDF, Version of Record (VoR)
  • Definition: The publisher’s final version of the paper, including formatting, typesetting, pagination, copy-editing, etc.
  • Note: Most publisher agreements provide the greatest rights for the pre-print and post-print. Typically the author is permitted to do little with the publisher's version. 


  • Also known as : Green open access
  • Definition: The process of depositing a copy of your article to a repository for preservation and open access purposes.
    • Repositories could be subject-based like arXiv or institutionally-based like USask's HARVEST


Example for one article of a preprint, accepted manuscript, and publisher version.

Image credit: © Jessica Lange. Licensed under Creative Commons CC BY 4.0 International

Assigning versus Licensing

Assign/ transfer

An assignment is the transfer of some or all of your rights to another party (e.g. a publisher). This assignment can last for the entire term of the copyright or for a specified period of time.

You may see the terms copyright transfer agreement or copyright assignment agreement. These mean the same thing. 


A license gives another party permission to use your work under certain conditions, but you keep ownership of your copyright and the related rights. This can also work in the reverse; in many publishing agreements, you will transfer copyright to the publisher but the publisher will license certain rights back to you. 

There are two main types of licenses:

  • Exclusive: Under an exclusive license the transferred rights can be exercised only by the owner of the license (the licensee), and no one else, not even the person who granted the license (the licensor). For example, if you sign an exclusive license with Wiley to publish your article for the period of 2015-2016. This would mean that only Wiley can publish the article during the time period.
  • Non-exclusive: Under a non-exclusive license the transferred rights can be exercised by the owner of the license (the licensee), but the licensor also retains the right to continue exercising those rights herself and to authorize others to do so. Taking the above example, if you had signed a non-exclusive license with Wiley that means you could license your work to another publisher and/or you could publish it yourself.