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Open access: Open licences (such as CC-BY)

This guide is about Open Access publishing for researchers at Åbo Akademi University

Why and what are open licenses?

Open licenses are a way to tell users/readers what they are allowed to do and not to do with your work (your research papers, drafts, blog posts, slides and images), when it comes to: reusing, redistributing, building on/modifying.

They make it possible for others to reuse the material legally, without having to find you to get permission. When your work is correctly attributed, it also helps others refer to you correctly. 

They are functional and well-founded: 

  • Open licenses work within current copyright law, not against it.
  • Creative commons licenses have been developed by a hoard of lawyers
  • One licensed object can contain material with another license than the body of the paper (diagrams, images etc)
  • They are free to use and machine readable if used correctly (i.e. allows for instance google search by reuse permission)

5-minute introduction video: 


Which licenses can I choose from?

CC-BY is the most liberal license of the Creative Commons licenses, called ”attribution”: 
"This license lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation. This is the most accommodating of licenses offered. Recommended for maximum dissemination and use of licensed materials."

You can restrict the permissions you give by adding to CC-BY
-SA, "share alike", demanding that modified versions use the same license
-NC: "non-commercial", disallowing commercial use (if you use it, add contact information to make it easier for users to ask permission)
ND, "no derivatives", disallowing modification, tweaking, remixing (if you use this for an entire article, you also restrict the separation and reuse of diagrams or images included it unless you license those items separately with a more liberal license)

License examples (a quick but informative overview):


Research data

For research data which is not copyright-protected (such as databases), CC0 is a possibility, combined with a request for attribution i.e. "Please cite as [CITATION]...". (Remember to include your ORCID-id.) The OpenAIRE guide to licensing data:


How do I license my work?

First, use the license chooser to find out which license suits your needs the best. For maximum circulation, CC-B4.0 is recommended.

1. Add title to object if there isn’t one: "Steffi's funny little plankton"
2. Add author and link to profile page (ORCID!)
3. Add source (orignal website) "Steffi's cute plankton blog at ÅAU" 
4. Add license with link to license deed (=Cc page) "CC BY 4.0 "

Further instructions:

Why is CC-BY4.0 recommended?

“CC BY 4.0 demands  that licensees indicate if changes are made when re-using licensed  material, and this means that the CC BY-ND license should not be  necessary for due protection of the rights of the author. For the  protection of authors' legal and moral rights to published material  cOAlition S refers either to the respective Rules of Good Research  Practices or to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and  Artistic Works". (Plan S Guidance version 1 Nov 2018

Because you want to allow for text mining, and because -ND prevents reuse of for instance a diagram included in a paper. (OASPA, Open Access Scholarly Publishers' Association,

“There are compelling reasons why we do not accept the more restrictive CC BY-ND and CC BY-NC options to be Plan S compliant. One is the reuse of scholarly publications for educational purposes. Another is that we wish to allow and enable large-scale content mining of scholar outputs by modern technology (such as machine-reading), including for commercial uses (e.g., pharmaceutical companies mining scholar papers in their endeavour to develop new drugs or vaccines or support for digital humanities methods). We strongly believe in the utility and potential for innovation based on results of publicly funded research, and we will not accept a Non-Commercial restriction on the re-use of research results.” (Plan S Rationale for revisions June 1, 2019)