Open Access, Copyright, Licensing, and IUScholarWorks

When most people hear the term, “open access,” they typically think of information that is freely accessible on the web; however, that only encompasses half of what open access stands for. Open access is not only about being able to obtain information for free, but it is also about being able to reuse that information freely, i.e. how that information is subsequently distributed, linked to, and built upon.

Image 1: Example of a derivative work, with green arrows pointing between the original and the new
Example of a derivative work. Retrieved from

By default, you, the author, hold the copyright for every new work you create, meaning you alone have the right to distribute and create derivatives from it. The good news is you can waive this right by adding a Creative Commons License to your work, which explains to users what they may or may not do with it. For example, a CC-BY license tells users that they may distribute and create derivative works, as long as they attribute the original work to you.

Adding a Creative Commons license to your work in IUScholarWorks is a simple step. When you submit an item to the repository, you have the opportunity to specify the name of a license in the Rights field during the submission process. Remember, leaving this field blank means the that you reserve all rights to your work!

To learn more about licensing options, check out the Creative Commons website ( or contact the IUScholarWorks team.

What Open Access Means to Me

On October 21-25, IU celebrated International Open Access Week with a series of events to reflect on and educate the IU community about open access, including workshops, presentations, and round table discussions on topics ranging from data management to student publishing. As part of this series, we asked faculty and students to answer the question “What does open access mean to you?” and compiled their responses here.

To wrap up the discussion, I thought I would use this post to share my own response:

Open access offers something for everyone. For librarians and users, it creates a sustainable model of scholarly communication that fosters equal access to information. For universities and funding agencies, it accelerates research, supporting the mission to advance knowledge creation. For researchers and their home institutions, it creates an unparalleled opportunity for impact.

As a graduate student in the Department of Information and Library Science, I am excited by the ways libraries are playing an increasing role in the open access movement by providing open access publishing services, supporting institutional repositories, preserving open access materials through LOCKSS, and more. I strongly believe that the principles of open access align with the core values of librarianship, and it is something that I am proud to be a part of.

If you are interested in learning more about open access, the following list of resources is a great place to get started:

Open Access Electronic Theses and Dissertations at IU

My name is Shayna Pekala and I am thrilled to have joined the Scholarly Communication Department this fall as the IUScholarWorks Assistant. I would like to use this post to highlight one of the IUScholarWorks services I have worked with extensively over the last month: open access publishing of electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs).

What is this service and why is it important?

The IUScholarWorks ETD service allows you to make the full text of your ETD available online for free. The main benefits of using this service can be summed up in two words: preservation and accessibility. If you publish your ETD with IUScholarWorks, we will preserve your work in perpetuity, even as technology changes. In addition, by making your ETD open access in our repository, your work will be exposed to major search engines, rendering it more discoverable. (Fun fact: there have been several studies conducted like this one that show open access articles are cited more frequently than non-open access articles.)

How does the service work?

All graduate students must submit their ETDs through ProQuest via the Graduate School website. These submissions are automatically ingested into a dark archive (one that can’t be accessed by any users) within the IUScholarWorks repository. IU requires that permission from the copyright holder be obtained before these ETDs can be made openly accessible. So, graduate students must give us permission to release their ETD by filling out this form. Once permission has been received, an IUScholarWorks staff member goes into the system, releases the ETD, and poof! the ETD becomes open access.

If I make my ETD open access, will I still be able to publish it later on as a monograph or in a journal?

There is a widely held assumption that the majority of publishers consider openly accessible ETDs to be prior publications, thus precluding them from future publication. However, a study published in July 2013, “Do Open Access Electronic Theses and Dissertations Diminish Publishing Opportunities in the Social Sciences and Humanities?”, found evidence to challenge this belief. The study reports that only 2.9% of journal publishers and 7.3% of university presses will not consider manuscripts derived from openly accessible ETDs under any circumstances. While the study concludes that submissions derived from ETDs are not considered prior publications by publishers, it is still advisable to check specific publisher policies if this is something you are considering.

What if I have more questions?

To learn more about open access publishing of ETDs at IU, check out our ETD webpage or email us at You might also consult some of these resources: