This page includes the text of a draft open access policy. An FAQ may be found immediately below the proposed policy. Contact Reid Larson (rslarson@hamilton.edu / 315-859-4480) or visit www.hamilton.edu/digitalcommons for more information about the Hamilton Digital Commons.

Draft Policy

The Faculty of Hamilton College is dedicated to making its research and scholarship widely available and committed to open-access practices in disseminating its scholarly work.

In pursuing these ends, each faculty member grants to Hamilton College a nonexclusive, worldwide license to exercise any and all rights under copyright relating to each of their scholarly articles, in any medium, provided that the articles are not sold for a profit, and to authorize others to do the same. Hamilton College grants these rights in turn to the authors themselves, so faculty members may exercise the same rights.

The granting of this license applies to all scholarly articles authored or co-authored by Hamilton College faculty that are completed after June 30, 2018. This license will have no effect on the copyright ownership of faculty articles, which remains with the authors unless they assign them to another party.

The license is revocable at will for individual articles. If directed by a faculty author, the Dean of Faculty or the Dean’s designate will automatically waive application of the license for a particular article or delay access to it for a speci?ed period.

Faculty members are encouraged to make the final manuscript of their articles available in one or more open access repositories. Scholarly and creative work submitted by faculty for inclusion in Hamilton College’s institutional repository will be archived and made freely available to the public.

Submission and Waiver Form

Click here to see a prototype of the form faculty will be able to use for submitting articles or obtaining waivers.  The information provided on the form will also be available for importing into faculty annual reports.

Frequently Asked Questions

Hamilton’s policy is by intent a more concise document than most of its antecedents. Below are answers to some common questions that are not fully explicated within the text of the policy.


This open access policy:

Enhances faculty ability to exercise their full rights of authorship

  • provides faculty authors with automatic rights retention for their scholarly articles
  • retains extremely broad author use and reuse rights for faculty with a minimum of effort
  • preserves author rights without the need to negotiate with publishers

Broadens the impact of scholarship by providing access to the public regardless of institutional affiliation or economic privilege

  • affirms a commitment to making faculty scholarship widely accessible to other researchers and the general public
  • allows the college to help authors in openly distributing articles for maximum impact

Preserves author choice and academic freedom

  • The policy’s primary function is to ensure faculty authors retain the fullest set of rights to their scholarly articles while simultaneously providing for the broadest possible access.
  • The policy has no effect on faculty copyright, which remains with the author.
  • Faculty authors may opt out of the policy’s open access license at any time and with no justification required.
  • The policy achieves its goal by creating a prior claim to rights that faculty authors might otherwise relinquish in publishing contracts.

Policies that provide faculty authors with automatic rights retention for their scholarly articles and affirm a commitment to making faculty scholarship openly accessible:

  • allow authors to retain extremely broad use and reuse rights with a minimum of effort
  • allow colleges to help authors in openly distributing articles for maximum impact
  • allow other researchers and the general public to obtain broader access to articles
  • support these benefits without the need to negotiate with publishers while preserving academic freedom, author choice, and consistency with copyright law

College and university open access policies are almost universally based on the type of rights-retention resolutions passed by faculty at Harvard (2008) and MIT (2009). Among small liberal arts colleges, the faculty at Trinity University and Oberlin College were the first to adopt open access policies based on this model (2009). More recently, faculty at Amherst (2013), Wellesley (2013), Smith (2015), and Middlebury (2016)—among others—also adopted open access policies.
The Registry of Open Access Repository Mandates and Policies (ROARMAP) is a searchable international registry charting the growth of open access mandates and policies adopted by universities, research institutions and research funders that require or request their researchers to provide open access to their peer-reviewed research article output by depositing it in an open access repository.

Hamilton’s open access policy takes as its starting point suggestions from “A Model Open-Access Policy” by Stuart M. Shieber (https://osc.hul.harvard.edu/modelpolicy/) and the Harvard Open Access Project’s “Good Practices for University Open-Access Policies” (http://bit.ly/goodoa). The “good practices” outlined in these documents recommend a policy that provides for automatic default rights retention in scholarly articles and a commitment to provide copies of articles for open distribution.

The license will have no effect on the copyright ownership of faculty articles, which remains with the authors unless they assign them to another party. Moreover, the license is revocable at will for individual articles. If directed by a faculty author, the Dean of Faculty or the Dean’s designate will automatically waive application of the license for a particular article or delay access to it for a specified period.

A successful answer to the distribution question requires addressing copyright first. Faculty cannot legally share work for which they have granted exclusive distribution rights to a publisher, which is typically what contracts secure for the publisher. The model proposed by this policy ensures that Hamilton faculty authors retain the rights necessary to freely distribute their work in its pre-publication form.

The primary purpose of this language is to preserve the rights of faculty authors. Section 205(e) of the Copyright Act of 1976 states that “a nonexclusive license, whether recorded or not, prevails over a conflicting transfer of copyright ownership” (17 U.S.C. § 205(e)). Establishing a transfer of rights from faculty members to the college (and back again) in advance of future publishing contracts provides a mechanism by which faculty authors can retain their copyrights and frees them from the need to negotiate with publishers.

Yes. Without a vote, there would be no legal transfer of rights from faculty members as a collective to the college (and back again to them) in advance of future publishing contracts. The transfer of rights is necessary to establish a (nonexclusive) prior claim to faculty works, which takes precedence over subsequent agreements. This provides the means for faculty authors to retain rights that might be transferred away in publishing contracts.

It is by acting collectively that more than 50 American university and college faculty--including those at Harvard, MIT, Columbia, Duke, Emory, and the University of California as well as those in peer institutions like Amherst, Bryn Mawr, Middlebury, Oberlin, and Wellesley--have achieved significant progress in making their scholarship discoverable and available not only to their own campuses, but also to the larger global community.

Hamilton faculty already work in an informal “opt in” landscape. Many faculty authors have been opting to share their work in disciplinary repositories for years, either because the grants funding their research have required it or because their professional associations have adopted this as a norm. Hamilton faculty now also have the option of making their work available through the Hamilton Digital Commons, our recently launched institutional repository. The policy does nothing to change this opt in model for sharing scholarly work. While faculty authors are encouraged to make their work freely available in the Digital Commons, they are not required to do so.


The policy does employ an “opt out” open access license to help faculty retain copyright in their work. A major reason we advocate an opt-out license is because it provides the easiest means for faculty authors to maintain and exercise control over their scholarly work. Such licenses free faculty from the need to negotiate individually with publishers over each scholarly article they produce. They secure faculty rights even when faculty fail to request them. And, they secure the same rights for every member of our community. Should a faculty author decide they would like to opt out of this license for any reason, the policy provides a simple means for them to obtain a waiver.


Opt in licenses can actually prove more burdensome and time consuming for faculty than an opt out licenses. Opting into a license would require faculty authors to either sign an agreement granting the college nonexclusive rights to an article before entering into a contract with a publisher or attach an addendum to their contract. This same process would have to be repeated for every article they publish. In short, opt out policies are favored over opt in policies because they enable the free circulation of knowledge with greater efficiency, since they require very little of faculty authors once in place.

An opt out license also provides an opportunity for the faculty to further align our scholarly and teaching commitments with our research practices by leveraging the strength of our numbers and of our institutional reputation to make our scholarship available to as many readers as possible. The Harvard Open Access Project, which has been a leader of the U.S. open access movement, and the Scholarly and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) both recommend opt out licenses because the shift the default from no permission for open access to permission for open.

An author addendum is not necessary, since the policy grants to Hamilton College all the rights required for making articles openly accessible prior to any contract being signed. Consequently, these rights do not need to be obtained from the publisher. However, it is recommended that faculty authors send to their publisher a letter that includes the college’s open access policy along with their signed contract. This provides publishers with an opportunity to either alter the contract’s language (in cases where the provisions of the contract may conflict with Hamilton’s open access policy) or request the faculty author to obtain a waiver from the policy.

Publishers have become accustomed to authors retaining their rights in the manner spelled out in our proposed policy. Journals already agree to publish articles by authors from institutions where faculty have adopted open access policies. In fact, more than 70% of academic journals allow some form of open access archiving by default. Publishers have few choices in the face of open access policies as adopted by institutions, states, and larger multinational entities like the EU. The Registry of Open Access Repository Mandates and Policies lists more than 600 universities and research institutions worldwide with open access policies.

Faculty members may at any time direct the college to provide a waiver from the open access license established by the policy. This document can be automatically generated using the online form for faculty article submissions and waivers.

Each coauthor has an equal right to exercise their copyright in joint works under U.S. law. Hamilton authors thus have no legal obligation to seek permission from their coauthors to make an article publicly available. However, Hamilton faculty always have the option to obtain a waiver from the license for an article solely at their discretion.

An annotation from “A Model Open-Access Policy” provides guidance on this point: “What constitutes a scholarly article is purposefully left vague. Clearly falling within the scope of the term are (using terms from the Budapest Open Access Initiative) articles that describe the fruits of scholars' research and that they give to the world for the sake of inquiry and knowledge without expectation of payment. Such articles are typically presented in peer-reviewed scholarly journals and conference proceedings. Clearly falling outside of the scope are a wide variety of other scholarly writings such as books and commissioned articles, as well as popular writings, fiction and poetry, and pedagogical materials (lecture notes, lecture videos, case studies).”

In most cases, you will want to provide a PDF of the accepted author manuscript. That’s the final manuscript version of your article that incorporates peer reviewer comments and editing, but has not been formatted for publication.

The Hamilton Digital Commons is an open archive for scholarly and creative works by Hamilton College faculty, students and staff. Faculty are encouraged to submit work they would like to make available to a wider audience, including (but not limited to) artwork, books, book chapters, conference presentations, learning objects, musical compositions, research data, and working papers.

You can find more information about open access at /offices/lits/OA/Home.

Hamilton Digital Commons

An open archive for scholarly and creative works by faculty, students and staff.

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