Green Open Access

A secondary publication is referred to as the so-called Green Open Access and means making a scientific publication, usually published in closed access, publicly available free of charge in the accepted manuscript version or the publisher's version, possibly after an embargo period. Another synonym for this is self-archiving. Secondary publication allows researchers and interested parties from all over the world to read, cite and link to the article, even if they belong to an institution that does not pay royalties for the journal.

Legal framework

There are two scenarios that make secondary publication legally possible. In any case, the consent of all co-authors is required.

1. Some authors' contracts with the publisher allow secondary publication. Whether and under what conditions (embargo period, document version, licence, etc.) a publisher allows secondary publication for a particular journal can be researched on the Sherpa Romeo website.
Sherpa Romeo
If there is no general permission for the chosen journal, an individual agreement with the publisher can make a secondary publication possible. Therefore, check your individual author contract for this possibility or, when concluding an author contract, make sure that the possibility of secondary publication is given.

2. Section 38 (4) of the German Copyright Act (UrhG) allows the publication of scientific articles by authors at universities whose work was funded via a public project funding by at least 50% (e.g. DFG, BMBF, EU projects, state-funded scholarships). An embargo period of one year since the first publication must be observed.

What is not permitted when applying the German Copyright Act?1

  • The regulation does not foresee secondary publications in a printed form.
  • Therefore, the secondary publication may not be granted a free licence (e.g. Creative Commons).
  • The secondary publication right does not apply to monographs and articles in commemorative publications, proceedings, etc.
  • The secondary publication may not serve a commercial purpose.

1 Urheberrecht für Bildung und Wissenschaft e.V. (2015, Juli). Das Recht auf eine Zweitveröffentlichung.

Green Open Access at BTU

The process of secondary publication at BTU is as follows:

  1. The author checks the legal situation for a possible secondary publication of the article.
  2. The author seeks the consent of all co-authors, if applicable.
  3. The author uploads the document in PDF/A format to the digital repository.
  4. The Theses Department checks the document and the metadata for formal correctness and completeness.
  5. The author submits the hand-signed declaration of consent to the Theses Department.
  6. The Theses Department releases the document to the public.

Tip: To find the manuscript version approved for publication, you can use the following tool.


What does simple/exclusive right of use mean?

The simple right of use permits the use of the work without excluding use by others. This means that all rights remain with the author.
The exclusive right of use, on the other hand, excludes use by others and the author transfers the rights of use.1
To ensure that a secondary publication is possible without an embargo period, you should make sure when concluding an author's contract that the publisher only receives the simple right of use.

Which document version is meant?

The preprint, also referred to as the submitted version, means the version of the document submitted by the author to the publisher before the peer review process.
The postprint, also known as the accepted version, refers to all document versions after the peer review process.
A distinction is made here between the manuscript version without the publisher's layout and the published version or version of record, i.e. the document version published by the publisher with the publisher's own formatting and logo.2

How long is the embargo period?

Whether there is an embargo period from the first publication of the article to permission for a second publication, and how long this period is, differs from journal to journal. This and other information on the Open Access conditions of the respective journal can be found on the Sherpa Romeo website.
Sherpa Romeo
For the licence agreements that the University Library has concluded with some publishers, different regulations apply in some cases with sometimes shorter embargo periods. Please feel free to contact us for further information.

1 Einräumung von Nutzungsrechten, §  31 Urheberrechtsgesetz § Teil 1 - Urheberrecht (§§ 1 - 69g), Abschnitt 5 - Rechtsverkehr im Urheberrecht (§§ 28 - 44) , Unterabschnitt 2 - Nutzungsrechte (§§ 31 - 44). Retrieved 6 Dezember 2021, from
2 ZB MED. (No year). Preprint- und Postprint-Version: Was ist damit gemeint? ZB MED - Informationszentrum Lebenswissenschaften. Retrieved 24 January 2022, from