Skip to Main Content

Open Access Toolkit

Open licences

When publishing open access, authors can often choose to licence their work with a Creative Commons licence. Creative Commons licences allow reuse (some with conditions) while protecting the authors' rights of acknowledgment, and enabling authors to retain copyright of their work.

The most commonly used Creative Commons licences in open access publishing are:

Watch this video explaining how Creative Commons licenses work.

What licence should I choose?

The UWA Research Integrity Policy encourages the use of CC BY licence; see section 10(B)(9): "Researchers will - make publications available on Open Access under the most appropriate Creative Commons licence, and preferably the CC BY licence." Regardless of which licence is selected, the author/s retain copyright of the article.

The CC BY licence is the least restrictive option as it allows others to copy and redistribute the article in any medium or format, and for any purpose – including commercial purposes – providing the original source is attributed.

Some points to consider when publishing with a CC BY-NC or CC BY-NC-ND licence:

  • The “non-commercial” clause in the CC BY-NC and CC BY-NC-ND licences can be problematic due to the lack of clarity around what constitutes a “non-commercial” activity. For example, some educational or research uses verge close to commercial, or are commercial in nature - e.g. MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and micro-credential courses - so articles with a CC BY-NC or CC BY-NC-ND could not be used for these purposes. 
  • The “no-derivates” clause in the CC BY-NC-ND licence means that the article can still be copied and distributed, providing no changes to the article were made. However, this means the article could not be translated or adapted in any way without permission.
  • When publishing with a CC BY-NC or CC BY-NC-ND licence, some publishers may request that the author/s sign an exclusive licence to publish agreement that assigns all rights not covered by the Creative Commons licence to the publisher. This means the author is the copyright holder in name only and can only use the article in the ways permitted by the Creative Commons licence. To avoid assigning your rights to a publisher, always read through any publication agreement before signing it and, if you are unhappy with any of the agreement terms, negotiate with the publisher to amend the publication agreement or seek advice from Librarians. 
  • These licences may not meet the conditions of Funder Mandates on open access e.g. the NHMRC mandate.


 Except for logos, Canva designs or where otherwise indicated, content in this guide is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.