Frequently Asked Questions

What is an institutional repository?

An institutional repository is an online database of open access work that aims to host and preserve research outputs of an institution. Repositories are not ordinary websites but are optimized for machine-readability and online discovery and indexing.

Osgoode Hall Law School’s institutional repository, the Osgoode Digital Commons, is not only a place but also a set of services. Osgoode Digital Commons provides a centralized digital host for the collection and preservation of faculty’s work. The services we provide include:

  • Processing submissions
  • Performing copyright clearances and verifications
  • Ensuring item discoverability via detailed metadata entries
  • Tracking item visibility via metrics
  • Performing stewardship of repository items
  • Accommodating specialized digital collections

Essentially, once faculty demonstrate an interest in having their scholarship available in the repository, we perform on their behalf as many of the associated tasks as possible

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What is Open Access?

Open Access refers to free, unrestricted online access to research outputs such as journal articles, conferences papers and books. Open Access means to open to all, with no access fees. Osgoode Digital Commons supports Open Access by ensuring Osgoode faculty work is made available through an open access institutional repository.

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What is the purpose of an institutional repository?

Research is more valuable when it is shared. Today’s digital world has advanced the ways in which we make sharing possible. Repositories like the Osgoode Digital Commons are a key component in this new information landscape. Not only do they carry the authority and prestige of their faculty and institution, they are also guided by the principles of openness and equity. This means unrestricted universal access to scholarship, which in turn increases the exposure of our faculty’s scholarly outputs.

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Can I submit my paper to a repository and still publish it at a later time?

Yes, a working paper that is not forthcoming in a publication is under the author’s ownership, which allows the author to share it however they like. This is known as a working paper or a pre-print. Should the author later wish to publish this paper, the greater majority of publishers will permit the retention of this paper version in repositories.

Papers that have been accepted for publication and have undergone peer-review are known as post-prints/accepted manuscripts. These papers usually remain under the author’s ownership, but this should be confirmed with the publisher/editor. The Osgoode Digital Commons is always able to accommodate changes in publisher requirements.

Once a paper is formatted, typeset, and published by the publisher, it becomes the final published version. Most of the author rights over this paper version, including the right to distribute, are transferred over to the publisher. This means that the final published version cannot be uploaded to institutional repositories. However, the pre-print and usually the post-print versions of the published paper remain under the author’s ownership and can therefore be distributed in institutional repositories.

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Can I add material other than journal articles and book chapters to the repository?

Yes, the Osgoode Digital Commons strives to preserve more than just journal articles and book chapters. We also collect conference papers, reports, working papers, editorials, images, and videos. For more information, get in touch with us at

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Does submitting my paper to a repository actually make it more widely available?

Yes, the Osgoode Digital Commons is supported by priority search indexing, which means items in the repository appear in the top search results of search engines such as Google and Google Scholar. This priority search indexing is further supported by the repository’s open access policy, which allows items to be fully discoverable and accessed by users globally.

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What are author rights?

It is important for authors to take an active role in managing the copyrights to their work and be aware of the contract agreements made between them and a publisher.

As the author, you are the copyright holder until or unless you sign away your rights in a publisher contract. Depending on the contract agreement, you may retain some but not all, rights to your work. Academic publishers generally request that a condition of publication is signing a Copyright Transfer Agreement. Including the partial or full loss of author rights to your work, you may also be restricted in your ability to place the work on personal websites, deposit the work in a public digital repository, or reuse portions in a subsequent work.

Osgoode Digital Commons will check with copyright permissions if you do not know the terms of your author agreement. Some publishers have strict permissions that do not allow us to upload your work. In cases like these you can provide a pre-print since you are the copyright holder of your pre-print.

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What are pre-prints?

The Association of Canadian Academic Library define a pre-print as “the original version of the manuscript as it is submitted to a journal.”

The purpose of pre-prints is to bypass the lengthy time it takes research to be disseminated. Osgoode Digital Commons can upload pre-prints as they are created or in cases where we do not have permission to upload the published work. Since pre-prints are not generally considered a form of published work, most journals will accept articles that have been shared as pre-prints. However, some journals will not and it is recommended to check the journal’s policies before submitting articles.

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How do I retain my rights?

You can negotiate with publishers to retain some rights over your work. Author Addendums can help create the modifying language needed to retain certain rights in the publisher contract. There are open author addendum tools that can generate an addenda by allowing you to select from a range of copyright options:

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