ACU’s vision includes expanding its Christian influence and educational reach nationally and internationally. Our institution is committed to disseminating its research and scholarship as broadly as possible, and to be increasingly visible and recognized around the world. We also would like our faculty’s scholarship to be available for research and teaching, barrier free, to anyone who needs it.

Digital Commons @ ACU (DC@ACU) aspires to increase the awareness of the intellectual output of ACU, with an aim to preserve and provide access to that research, as well as providing faculty with a place to point to in promoting their own work. It is an excellent vehicle for working papers or copies of published articles and conference papers. Presentations, reports, theses, uniquely held items, and other works not published elsewhere can also be published in DC@ACU.

Below you will find ACU's Open Access Policy (OA), as well as articles and links to help you navigate the importance of OA.

For more information about Open Access, please email Erica Pye or call 325.674.2352.

For more information about DC@ACU, please email the Lead Administrator or call 325.674.2352.

For more information about Copyright and Fair Use, please visit the ACU Library's webpage on this topic.

Links to Open Access Policy Documents

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Open Access?

Have you ever run into a paywall? A page that requires payment to access an academic article online is a paywall. As a researcher, this paywalled research could be your work, or a work you have peer reviewed, that is unavailable without paying for access. You might not even realize that the majority of your publications are not available to people wanting to read them, because you are accustomed to having this access through your library system.

Now imagine if your peer reviewed scholarly work was easy to find and access by anyone through a simple Google search. That is what Open Access institutional repositories can provide.

Open Access (OA) is the provision of information at no cost in an unrestricted manner on the World Wide Web. The goal of OA is to democratize information by removing price barriers.

Why would an author be interested in pursuing an Open Access option?

  • Your work is more visible. Most scholars would like to see their work available to all that would like to access it. According to a 2016 ACU faculty survey, 86% of ACU faculty agreed or strongly agreed that ‘published scholarly research should be made available to the public without barriers.’ Document share from Google Drive
  • Increased citation counts. Studies have shown a positive link between articles that are openly discoverable and citation counts. A 2016 study of over 3.3 million published articles showed that OA articles have, on average, 50% more citations.
  • Funding agencies are requiring Open Access. National funding agencies, such as the National Institute for Health and the National Science Foundation have OA requirements for research funded through their agencies. Internationally, this is increasingly becoming the norm as well. (The E.U. has a goal of 100% free scientific papers by 2020 )

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy:

“The Director of the National Institutes of Health ("NIH") shall require in the current fiscal year and thereafter that all investigators funded by the NIH submit or have submitted for them to the National Library of Medicine's PubMed Central an electronic version of their final, peer-reviewed manuscripts upon acceptance for publication, to be made publicly available no later than 12 months after the official date of publication: Provided, that the NIH shall implement the public access policy in a manner consistent with copyright law.”

National Science Foundation’s plan for comprehensive public access to research results:

“NSF will require that articles in peer-reviewed scholarly journals and papers in juried conference proceedings or transactions be deposited in a public access compliant repository and be available for download, reading and analysis within one year of publication”

  • Library users are often unaware of the inflated database/ journal prices that libraries pay for access to articles that are published by faculty at their universities. With prices of up to $20,000 for a single journal / year, (e.g.,Journal of Comparative Neurology is over $27,000/year) even the top funded universities, like Harvard, have declared that the current model of access is unsustainable for educational institutions..

What do faculty at ACU think about Open Access?

The University Library Committee sent out a survey to faculty regarding their knowledge and interest in Open Access. The responses were overwhelmingly positive towards open access, providing that making research open did not limit publishing options or impact tenure and promotion. To summarize, we had 98 responses from faculty members across all colleges. The majority of our faculty believe that published research should be available to the public, barrier free (86%). Many faculty also believe that the traditional pay-for-view model of scholarly publishing does not work well ( 74.5%). A large majority of faculty believe they should retain the rights to their peer reviewed published work (88%) and are interested in better understanding their rights as authors (83.6%). However, it should be mentioned that most publisher’s agreements do the opposite, taking away the author’s rights to their own work.

Most ACU faculty also believe that open access to their work would be beneficial to their carreer (72%) as well as beneficial to ACU (87%). 29% of faculty currently place their work on third party websites for open sharing, such as, and more; however, the majority of faculty ( 69%) were not aware that ACU has a repository for sharing research publications. Overall, 85% of faculty are interested in learning about depositing the final version of their peer reviewed publications into Digital Commons @ ACU.

There were several concerns which were brought up, which seemed to stem from a misunderstanding of open access and repositories. These included the idea that open access is predatory, that we are advocating where people publish, or that a policy might affect their tenure and promotion. We hope that the rest of the FAQ helps answer some of these questions, as an OA policy is about protecting authors rights to their work, no matter where they choose to publish.

There were also several positive comments, including researchers who are glad to see that practitioners in their field would be able to access much needed information without running into paywalls.

Who has OA policies?

OA is best practice in higher education. Over 560 universities have adopted OA policies. (List of University/ Research Institutions with OA policies can be found here: Link to RoarMap: Registry of Open Access Repository Mandates and Policies. This ranges from major universities like Harvard and MIT to mid-sized private Christian universities like Trinity University. The policies most often focus on peer-reviewed scholarly journal articles and their open access through deposit in online Institutional Repositories (IRs).

How would Full Faculty Commitment to Open Access policy work at ACU?

When a journal accepts your article for publication, they will send you a form that transfers your copyright to the journal, while retaining rights to your work. Most journals permit authors to archive the final draft of their articles on institutional repositories. You would be required to submit this version of your article to the Digital Repository contact . After verifying the journal’s policy, we would deposit your final draft into our institutional repository where it can be indexed and discovered on search engines like Google Scholar. In the few cases where a publisher does not permit authors to deposit final drafts, other versions can often be placed in the repository, or faculty would be provided an open access addendum to request permission to deposit your article into a repository.

All faculty have the ability to opt out of this policy, for reasons such as the journal refusing to grant you self-archiving rights, or your co-authors objecting to the non-exclusive license being granted to ACU. This ensures that faculty can publish where they please, without an Open Access policy limiting options. MIT and Harvard only have about a 4% opt out rate (MIT Open Access & Harvard Open Access ), since most publishers will allow depositing.

What is a Non-Exclusive License?

When University faculty sign a non-exclusive license to the university, it grants the licensee the right to use the intellectual property, but also allows the licensor to be free to exploit the same intellectual property and to also allow other licensees to exploit the same intellectual property. When you grant someone a non- exclusive license, you still hold the copyright to your work.

These licenses come before the publisher’s license agreement is signed, and although this has never been tested in court, the idea is that licenses granted to the university will persist even if an author later signs a conflicting copyright transfer agreement with a publisher.

Why is there an opt-out option?

The overall objective of the Open Access Policy is to make your research more visible. There may be times when it is not in your best interest to comply with this policy.Inclusion of copyrighted materials in the work, agreements with the publishers that prevent open dissemination. Also a faculty member may not want their work easily accessible for various reasons. Faculty do not need to offer a reason for requesting a waiver, and an opt out waiver has been included as part of the policy.

Why is there a waiver to opt-out?

The only legal effect of the Open Access Policy is to create a limited license for the University to make scholarly articles available for non-profit open access purposes. Without this license agreement, most publishers will not allow a deposit, therefore an overarching policy must be in place as leverage to deposit in the repository.

In some circumstances, an author may wish to revoke that license to the University. The policy provides for this, by including an option for any author to request a waiver of the policy, which will be automatically granted. A waiver invalidates the limited rights that are shared with the University under this policy. Thus, waivers are only needed if the author wishes to invalidate those rights.

What version of my paper can I deposit in ACU’s Institutional Repository?

Versions of submitted articles are classified, in order to be aware of what version is deposited. The version deposited will depend on the publisher’s agreement. Below are the various options, with a link to an example from MIT’s Institutional Repository of each type. Ideally the final published version would be the one deposited, however when publisher agreements are restrictive, and do not accept an addendum, the author’s final manuscript (after peer review) may be used. Readers will be able to identify which version they are looking at, as the metadata will include a field for version.

  • Final published version: final published article, as it appeared in a journal, conference proceedings, or other formally published context (this version appears here only if allowable under publisher's policy). Example: A publication from a MIT faculty member which was published in the Journal of high energy physics (not an open access journal), and then placed in the institutional repository for anyone to access. Example from MIT
  • Author's final manuscript: final author's manuscript post peer review, without publisher's formatting or copy editing. Example: Author’s final manuscript version, which is often allowed by journals who do not allow immediate posting of the final copy (Taylor & Francis). Example from MIT
  • How are publishers responding to an increase in Open Access?

    Many publishers create significant barriers for authors who want to reuse or share their work. Having an institutional open access policy protects you by allowing the institution to work on your behalf. As an example, after implementing mandatory OA at Harvard and MIT, they only have a 4% waiver rate for faculty who’s publisher of choice will not allow an open access copy of their work to be made available online. Because over 500 institutions now have OA policies, most publishers now include options for researchers wanting to make their work available online.

    Sherpa has an almost complete list of publishers who have an agreement related to Open Access. In fact, out of the 2287 publishers listed on the database, 80% allow some form of self- archiving. Some of the major publishers on list are Elsevier, Cambridge University press, and more. Sherpa List This is a good place to check what each specific journal or publisher’s policy is. Note that most agreements now include ‘permitted deposit due to funding body, institutional or Government policy or mandate…’ This covers institutions who are utilizing an OA policy we propose.

    A list of publishers who allow immediate open access with an article processing charge (APC) is also available here:Sherpa List of Publishers with an APC

    Why not use or Researchgate?

    • A non exclusive license does not limit where you can deposit your articles.
    • Academia and Researchgate maintain that they are not a repository, instead they are websites that link researchers, and also have a sharing platform.
    • Most publishers who allow depositing of articles into repositories specify that the repositories are non commercial, therefore it’s often not in the publisher’s agreement to post on Academia or Researchgate which are both commercial.
    • Another point to keep in mind is that these websites might not be stable, and can be purchased by large publisher groups. One example is Mendeley, another researcher / sharing website, which was purchased by Elsevier, a large publisher in 2013. ( This led to Elsevier sending out ‘take down notices’ to researchers posting their work on Academia and Researchgate, and also led to the outcry of many scientists upset that their work they had posted on the website was now owned by a large publisher)
    • Depositing your work in an institutional repository does not limit you from also posting your work on these networking sites.

    Does depositing my work in an Institutional Repository affect my tenure and promotion?

    No, depositing a copy of your published work in our repository does not limit where you publish. The deposit happens after you publish in the journal of your choosing. In fact, metrics gained from downloads and views of your work can be used to help further your career, as well as additional citations and readership that could result from making your research outputs open.

    What is the difference between an open access policy and open journals?

    Open access resolutions or policies are instituted to allow faculty peer-reviewed scholarship to be stored and disseminated through a college’s or university’s institutional repository. The primary goal is wide dissemination. Asking permission from the minority of traditional publishers that do not permit final drafts to be posted (via an open access addendum) is one method of allowing access to this research.

    Other ways to provide open access to scholarly research include directly publishing in Open Access journals and books. A list of open access journals can be found through the Directory of Open Access Journals. There are two types of open access journals: green and gold. Green journals already allow authors to self-archive final version manuscripts to institutional repositories. Gold journals allow immediate access to all journal content immediately upon publication. However, gold journals also require authors to pay publication fees.

    Are open access journals predatory?

    No, there can be predatory journals that are open, as well as predatory closed journals. Infact, some of the most highly respected journals/ publishers have open access journals. (Journals such as the Lancet Global Health, PloS, Nature communications, and publishers such as Elsevier, IEEE, Taylor and Francis all have OA journal titles) There are over 5000 peer reviewed OA journals on the directory of open access journals database.

    Where can I find more information on author rights?

    SPARC is a global coalition committed to open research and education. They have resources related to author rights and copyright, as well as the SPARC author addendum online, which allows authors to enter basic information about your article and generate a printable addendum to your publishing agreement. Link to SPARC Author Rights. MIT also has a really useful website related to scholarly publishing and copyright: Link to MIT site for Scholarly Publishing and Copyright

    Here is a good article about copyright law and how open access policies work, legally. Link to Opening the Door PDF The key points “Luckily, the Copyright Act specifically addresses this issue. Section 205(e) on “Priority Between Conflicting Transfer of Ownership and Nonexclusive License” states that “a nonexclusive license, whether recorded or not, prevails over a conflicting transfer of copyright ownership” where the following conditions are met: (1) the nonexclusive license is in writing; (2) the author or its agent has signed the written license; (3) the license was given before the conflicting transfer (i.e., an exclusive licensing agreement with a journal publication) was made; and (4) the license was taken in “good faith” before the conflicting transfer was recorded with the Copyright Office and without notice of the conflicting transfer.27”

    What kind of support services does ACU offer?

    The ACU Library offers advice and resources related to open scholarship, journal impact, metrics and altmetrics, author rights and copyright information. We also offer an institutional repository and can ensure that your work is easily findable, citable and preserved. For more information about open access and scholarly publishing: Open Access and Scholarly Communication Support Libguide

    Current Open Access Policies arranged by Date


Submissions from 2017


Abilene Christian University: Faculty Open Access Policy, Jeremy Elliot, Dawne Meeks, Frederick Aquino, Stephanie Hamm, Dennis Marquardt, Jeanine Verner, Matt Steele, and David Perkins

Submissions from 2016


ACU Faculty Library Committee Open Access Policy, Jeremy Elliot, Dawne Meeks, Frederick Aquino, Stephanie Hamm, Dennis Marquardt, Jeanine Varner, Matt Steele, and David Perkins


Addendum to Publication Agreement Form, Jasmine R. Hoover, Mark L. McCallon, John B. Weaver Dr, and Mark McCallon


Waiver Request (SAMPLE), Jasmine R. Hoover, Mark L. McCallon, John B. Weaver Dr, and Donald Simpson