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Author Rights


Publishers permit different rights for different versions of your article.

Below are a list of commonly-used terms and explanations.  


  • Also known as: Author’s original, Submitted version
  • Definition: The draft of an academic article and/or the initial submission to a journal. Sometimes also called a working paper. 

Accepted manuscript

  • Also known as: Post-print, Accepted version, Author's accepted manuscript (AAM)
  • Definition: Version which is accepted for publication (post-peer review) but BEFORE 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: Locate accepted manuscripts in publisher systems using the Direct2AAM guide.

Publisher’s final version

  • Also known as: Publisher’s PDF, Version of Record (VoR)
  • Definition: The final version of the paper, including formatting, typesetting, copy-editing, etc.
  • Note: Typically the author has very few rights for the publisher's version. 


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


Accepted manuscript may look like a word doc/draft while publisher version will have the final typesetting.

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).
    • Example: 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 that time period.
  • Non-exclusive: Under a non-exclusive license the transferred rights can also be exercised by the owner of the license (the licensee). The licensor also retains the right to exercise those rights themselves and to authorize others to do so.
    • Example: If you signed a non-exclusive license with Wiley that means you could license your work to another publisher and/or you could publish it yourself. 

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