Preprints: Accelerating Research

4. How Do I Submit a Preprint?

Copyrights and Preprints

United States Copyright Law

United States copyright law gives authors exclusive rights to make and sell copies of their work, to create derivative works, and to perform or display their works publicly. These rights generally expire 70 years after the author’s death or 95 years after publication. Copyrights are in place whether or not the author registers their copyright claim, and have some limitations such as Fair Use (see the Fair Use Index for more information).

There are some common practices in journal publishing. Traditionally, to publish their article in a journal, authors must agree to transfer their copyright to the journal publisher. The publisher "owns" the copyright. Publishers generally extend some rights for authors to use and share their own work following this transfer, but the author should carefully read and understand the agreement they are making with the publisher.

Duplicate and Prior Publication

As an author, be sure to review the journal’s website to find publishers’ policies on preprinting prior to submitting your manuscript. As an example, see Elsevier’s Copyright policies. For additional information, see the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors guidance on Overlapping Publications.

Creative Commons-BY License

As mentioned earlier, a common type of license used in open access journals and with preprints is a Creative Commons-BY (CC-BY) license. This license allows the reader to share or adapt a resource, as long as they clearly credit the original author. Learn more about Creative Common licenses.

Public Domain

Works under Creative Commons licenses differ from works in the Public Domain, which includes work created by the U.S. Federal Government. Works in the Public Domain have no restrictions on use. They are free for anyone to use, reuse, and adapt without attribution. For example, NIH and bioRxiv use this license language for work in the public domain:

"This article is a US Government work. It is not subject to copyright under 17 USC 105 and is also made available for use under a CC0 license."


Check your knowledge from the 4. How Do I Submit a Preprint? section by answering the following questions:

  1. Using the ASAPbio preprint server listing which of the following is a possible preprint server to submit to if you’re researching Nutrition?

  1. When selecting a preprint repository, you should consider:

  1. A Creative Commons CC-BY 4.0 license allows for: (Select all that apply)

  1. Find the FAQ for medRxiv. When you submit to medRxiv, what licensing terms are you agreeing to?

  1. To connect your preprint to your publication, you should include the DOI of your preprint when submitting a manuscript to publication. True or False?