Last week my colleague Paula wrote a blog post explaining the Rights Retention Strategy (RRS) and its use by Wellcome Trust authors. Including the RRS statement in journal submissions has been part of the Wellcome policy since January 2021, so what effect has it had?

At the start of October, Ross Mounce (Director of Open Access Programmes at Arcadia Fund) wrote a piece for cOAlition S on Observing the success so far of the Rights Retention Strategy, documenting over 500 works published with the Rights Retention language (“For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a CC BY public copyright licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission”) in the acknowledgements section.

Looking only at journal articles, the vast majority of these works utilised the publisher open access route, where either the funder paid for the work to be open access, or the article was included in an institutional agreement with the publisher.

There are at least 2 articles that have been published behind a paywall and used Rights Retention to make the Author Accepted Manuscript open access in a repository without an embargo period:

  • Moreno, T., Monterde, B., González-Silva, L., Betancor-Fernández, I., Revilla, C., Agraz-Doblas, A., Freire, J., Isidro, P., Quevedo, L., Blanco, R., Montes-Moreno, S., Cereceda, L., Astudillo, A., Casar, B., Crespo, P., Morales Torres, C., Scaffidi, P., Gómez-Román, J., Salido, E. and Varela, I., 2021. ARID2 deficiency promotes tumor progression and is associated with higher sensitivity to chemotherapy in lung cancer. Oncogene, 40(16), pp.2923-2935. (Author Accepted Manuscript available from PubMed Central:

Predictions for the Future

Rights Retention helps fulfil the aim of cOAlition S to make full and immediate open access to research publications a reality.

I anticipate that as funders revise their open access policies, Rights Retention will play a key role.  We can see this is already making a difference for articles acknowledging Wellcome Trust funding, and it is one of the routes to open access announced in the new UKRI open access policy which applies to journal articles submitted from 1 April 2022.

Combined with Transformative Agreements which aim to convert ‘hybrid’ journals (those containing a mix of subscription and open access content) to full open access, and provide a no-cost-to-the-author way to publish open access in the journal, Rights Retention will help make universal immediate open access a reality.

How do publishers feel about Rights Retention? Stephen Eglen, Professior of Computational Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge explores this issue in an LSE Impact Blog post: How will the Rights Retention Strategy affect scholarly publishing?

How do readers find Author Accepted Manuscripts?

Key questions that we always address when we talk about open access are:

  • Is repository open access worth it? Do readers download Author Accepted Manuscripts?
  • How do readers find legal open access versions of articles if the publisher version is paywalled?

Last week we ran one of our regular Open Access Q&A sessions and had a look at download statistics from UK institutional repositories, and from our own repository, ePrints Soton. Using IRUS-UK to view aggregated stats as I write this, there are 179 active UK repositories, with a total number of 5,858,153 downloads in October 2021 alone.

You may be wondering if any of those downloads were from our repository: there were 132,966 downloads from ePrints Soton in October 2021. If you are interested in seeing how many times a specific item (journal article, conference paper, thesis, dataset etc) has been downloaded from ePrints Soton, scroll to the bottom of the ePrints page (stats sometimes load more quickly in Firefox or Edge than Chrome).

These repository download statistics are totally separate to downloads from publisher pages, which are not always easy to measure.

Anyone who knows me has heard me enthuse about Unpaywall and other tools for finding legal open access copies of articles. I also like LibKey Nomad, which finds both legal open access versions, and connects to the publisher version if we have a subscription, which is very useful if you are off campus without VPN connected. You can find out more at

As always, please contact us if you have any questions:

Nicki Clarkson, Engagement Librarian

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The Wellcome Trust: Rights Retention Strategy (RRS) in action

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