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I post immediately on PhilPapers and/or my website. I honestly don't care too much for these "contracts" with publishers (seriously, what are they gonna do?). What's the rationale for not allowing to post preprints? Profit. Profit off the free labor of authors, reviewers and editors. So, no, for me free dissemination of knowledge (knowledge that the author created!) takes precedence over corporate profit.


I have never found such info from the contracts I have signed. I do not think it's actually there, at least not with every published. Generally, you can post the print online as soon as the journal publishes the paper online.

I think you can find the info regarding the publishers'/journals' policy here. https://v2.sherpa.ac.uk/romeo/

Trystan Goetze

I always double-check the publisher's and journal's policies, which are usually referred to in the contract but not included in the document itself. They are typically very clear, if a little hard to find. Something to add to Marcus's comments is that the submitted version of the manuscript (i.e. the pre–peer review version) can usually be posted anywhere upon acceptance, but they can be less useful for publicizing your scholarship since your paper may have changed significantly during the review process.

The good news is that as soon as the editor(s) confirm acceptance of the paper, you can index it in PhilPapers (and add it to your CV as "forthcoming"), then add a copy of the manuscript when the embargo is lifted. And if anyone emails to ask for a copy of the paper, there is nothing to stop you sharing it.


I don't think I've ever seen a contract that forbade me from making penultimate drafts of the paper available either. Just any version with layout and copy-editing work done on it.

Trystan Goetze

Something else to add that just occurred to me: universities in some countries require manuscripts of accepted articles to be uploaded to their internal repositories as soon as possible. In the UK this is, I believe, part of their reporting obligations to the government under the research excellence framework. In cases like these, you upload the paper and let the specialists who manage the repo decide how and when to make the file publicly available.


The safe legal thing to do is to follow the contract, whatever it says. But I have never heard of a case of a person who got in trouble for not following the contract.

I normally post on various websites a final draft, using my own formatting, in PDF form after it appears on the journal's page. I also normally download the official journal version. That way, if someone does email me, I can send the official version and not just my final PDF draft.

recent phd

I don't think honouring contracts is that important, especially if we reflect upon whether the contracts are exploitative in the first place. And we should probably reconsider if we want to envoke the "you voluntarily" stuff. How much choice do we actually have, especially if we are early career academics?

I would say that we should always follow the 11th commandment: don't get caught. This, of course, would need some evidence of the general norms as they are enforced. But for my small contribution (less than 5 papers), I've posted all on PhilPapers and did my best to upload them to sci-hub. I've never heard of anyone getting into trouble.

I further believe (without argument) that we have a duty to do so, to make stuff as easily accessible as possible, as some are not from resourceful institutions.


Call me old fashioned, but I try hard to keep promises that I make. And when a journal publishes my article--proofreads it, makes it look nice, sends it to libraries around the world, advertises it, etc., and in the process creates lots of jobs and generates a return on capital for investors--I promise, signing my name, not to disseminate it in certain ways. So I don't. These restrictions rarely prevent anyone who wants to read the article from doing so at no cost. (You can post the penultimate draft on a personal webpage, e.g., or PhilPapers--just read the contract.)

It's ironic (or maybe not) that so many academics don't care about keeping their word with these private sector actors, given how actually exploitative and generally nasty 'non-profit' academia has become.

recent phd

re Tom2:

I really respect you for your commitment to promise keeping. I just want to say that it's not a perfect world, and not everyone can afford to live up to such standards.

Richard Y Chappell

I agree with the first commenter: "free dissemination of knowledge (knowledge that the author created!) takes precedence over corporate profit."

While I'm lame and just post pre-prints myself, I always appreciate when I see another (typically more senior) philosopher has shared their post-prints on PhilPapers. They're doing a public service, by making academic work more accessible.

fwiw, I think it's morally better to break bad promises than to keep them. (Obviously, better to avoid making such promises in the first place if you can, but if that isn't feasible for whatever reason...) Keeping knowledge inaccessible to those without institutional access is just bad (and a violation of your duties to the public if your work is publicly funded). Don't do it!

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