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What is a Postprint?

When an author publishes an article, the copyright is often transferred to the publisher (unless the author negotiates changes to the Copyright Transfer Agreement to allow them to retain some form of copyright).  The publisher determines the conditions under which an article can be reused and institutional repositories must abide by these publisher policies and conditions.

There are three versions of an article that is submitted for publication:

  • Preprint
  • Postprint
  • Publisher Version

Most publishers allow some version of the article to be deposited into an institutional repository and most commonly they will allow a preprint or a postprint.  Rarely does a publisher allow the publisher version to be posted.   If there is a choice between depositing a preprint or a postprint then the postprint would be the preferred choice.

Sherpa/RoMEO "characterizes pre-prints as being the version of the paper before peer review and post-prints as being the version of the paper after peer-review, with revisions having been made."

This means that in terms of content, post-prints are the articles as published. However, in terms of appearance this might not be the same as the published article, as publishers often reserve for themselves their own arrangement of type-setting and formatting. Typically, this means that the author cannot use the publisher-generated .pdf file, but must make their own .pdf version for submission to a repository."

This would seem  fairly straightforward except that different publishers use different terms for a postprint, including, but not limited to: accepted manuscript; author created version; your own version.

What are the different versions of an article?

Pre-Print, Post-Print or Offprint  by Harrison W. Inefuku is a good article that describes the differences.