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Library Guides

Researcher Support Library Services: Author copyright & articles

About Creative Commons

Creative Commons Licences are a type of open licence which you can apply to your work to indicate you are happy to share the work with the public under certain conditions. The author retains copyright while the public is allowed to reuse the content.

CC licenses provide clear indication of how work may be used, reused and distributed. There are six different Creative Commons license types ranging from most to least permissive. The licenses allow you to specify whether or not you wish your work to be used for commercial purposes, whether you require the person re-using your work to share it under the same license, or whether you are happy with derivative works being created from the work you have shared.

Creative Commons licences use standard icons. There are six main Creative Commons licenses - you can find out more about these on the Creative Commons website. They are as follows:


Applying a Creative Commons license to your work can come with many benefits, including:

  • Your work is more discoverable. The Creative Commons licenses are machine readable and search engines can communicate to their users how your work can be used and re-used.
  • Your work is more accessible. The Creative Commons licenses decrease financial barriers to access and allow more people to read and use your work.
  • Others can use and build on your work (but you retain copyright). By applying a Creative Commons license, you are making your work available for others to more easily use and re-use within the terms you have permitted..
  • You don't have to handle individual permissions requests. Users can look at the Creative Commons license you have applied in order to determine what they can do with your work. If the license permits their intended use, they don't need to seek further permission from you.


Some things to consider before choosing and applying a Creative Commons license to your work:

The Creative Commons Wiki provides a list of things to consider before choosing an applying a Creative Commons license to your work.

Before applying a Creative Commons license, it is very important to make sure that you hold the copyright. If the material includes rights held by others, make sure to get permission to sublicense those rights under the CC license. You should also prominently indicate any rights not covered by the license (e.g. third party content used under another license). For more information on copyright and third party materials, visit our LibGuide on Copyright for teaching, studying and research.

It is also important to note that once you have applied a Creative Commons license to your work, it is irrevocable, as other people may then have started to use it.


The Creative Commons License Chooser can help you select the license from the six main types of CC license that best suits your needs.


Using copyrighted material

Using copyrighted material

As a researcher you are likely to want to copy information from books, journals and web resources to support your research. You may also want to include this material when  publishing your research.

For more information on using copyrighted material for teaching, studying, and research, you can view our guidance on copyright for teaching and research:


LibGuide on Copyright for Research

Creative Commons Licenses and Funders

Funder Policies on Open Licenses


Many funding organisations have published an open access policy which may require you to apply an open license such as a CC license to work arising from your funding.

Plan S is an initiative for open-access publishing launched in 2018 by 'cOAlition S', a consortium of national research agencies and funders. Its key principle is that all scholarly publications on the results from research funded by cOAlition S organisations must be published under an open license, preferably the Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY). To help authors to achieve this, Plan S also supports several new 'routes' to open access.

To find out more about funder open access policies, and how Plan S will affect open access publishing for Plymouth researchers over the next few years, view our guidance on Plan S & funder policies:


LibGuide on Plan S & Funder Policies

Publishing under a Creative Commons License

Publishing Gold Open Access with a Creative Commons License     

Gold Open Access is achieved when immediate public access is granted to the published article, usually by applying a CC license to the published work. Authors can generally choose between a commercial and noncommercial user license.

Check your publishers' website for guidance on what licenses are available: for example, see these guides from Elsevier, Wiley, Routledge, Taylor & Francis, and OUP on choosing and applying CC licenses to your published work.

Publishing Gold Open Access under a CC license allows copyright for the published article to be retained by the author, and they do not sign a copyright transfer agreement with the publisher.


Publishing Green Open Access with a Creative Commons License     

Green Open Access is achieved by ​making a version of the manuscript freely available in a repository, such as PEARL. In most cases, publishers will allow the Accepted Manuscript to be deposited, but they may not allow the Version of Record (i.e. the published version) to be made freely available. In this scenario, CC license can be applied to the Accepted Manuscript, while the author signs a copyright transfer agreement for the published version.

The publisher may also stipulate that the Accepted Manuscript only be made accessible following a period of embargo. Sherpa Romeo is a useful tool for checking journal permissions on manuscript deposits and embargo periods.


For guidance on publishing Green or Gold Open Access, you can view our guidance on open access journal articles:.

LibGuide on Open Access Journal Articles

Are you permitted to share?

Are you permitted to share?

Scholarly social networks help scholars to share their work, find collaborators, interact with peers and demonstrate their research impact. Some widely-known scholarly social networks include and Mendeley.

Remember if you are using any of these sites to to check that you have the permissions to upload your articles. Publishers will generally allow you to upload a pre-print version of your paper, but not the Version of Record (the final version published in the journal), but you are responsible for ensuring any documents you post are within the specific copyright agreement that you have signed with the publisher in question. Sherpa Romeo is a helpful tool for checking publisher policies on article deposits.

You can also email for advice on whether or not you can add a document to sites such as ResearchGate. 

It is important to note that sites such as ResearchGate are not repositories, and uploading a pre-print to these sites does not meet the criteria for UoP or REF Open Access policies. Please visit our guidance on REF: Act on Acceptance for advice on depositing your work in PEARL via Pure.