I have some publications in Elsevier and Springer journals. After publication, I received an author's personal copy of one of my articles. I don't know how they sent it to me because I don't remember ever had requesting a personal copy. After that I did not receive any personal copy for any of my published articles. Lately, I had a conversation with my supervisor and he asked me to provide him the author's personal copies of my published papers as I was the communicating author. He told me that the author's personal copy is mandatory for official use.

I could not understand that. How could the author's personal copy be anyway different from original copy for the purpose of official use?

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    I've never had such a request and find it as strange as you do. Doesn't your institute have a subscription for this journal? – Roland Jul 19 '18 at 6:46
  • @Roland: We do have the subscription, but my supervisor is skeptical and he says that the author's copy is watermarked with the word "Author's Personal copy". – IgotiT Jul 19 '18 at 7:00
  • Copies downloaded via subscription are watermarked with the subscriber information. Most publishers specify that you are free to circulate an author copy among a limited number of colleagues (e.g., see Taylor & Francis) but, in practice, people who care usually circulate the unformated pre-prints or publish open-access. – Roland Jul 19 '18 at 7:53

I think you are hitting legacy procedures. Before the internet and electronic publication and such, author copies were very usual. Since the publisher was busy typesetting the copy anyway, they would print off some number of copies of the paper to give to the author. Depending on the journal, these might even be typeset in exactly the way they were in the journal, starting at the same place on the page for example. Then when researchers wanted copies they would request them from the author.

It was usually cheaper, and higher quality, than photocopying. It also acted as a nice intro between the author(s) and people interested in the work. The prof I did my post-doc under had a huge collection of author copies.

These days, electronic publication has mostly taken over. Protected PDF copies, with built in water marks, for example, are fairly common. And usually a lot cheaper and more convenient. You don't have to wait for mail just download. And you can use them on your favorite device. They're searchable, etc.

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    Those were reprints, which cost some additional money often. They were not watermarked at all. One could follow the spread of photocopiers around the world by where you still got the reprint request postcards from... – Jon Custer Jul 19 '18 at 16:01

Assuming your "author's personal copy" is an electronic file, then I would guess that it's simply a procedure the publisher has: after your paper is published, they send you a copy of it. They do this so that even if you don't have a subscription to the journal, you still have a copy of your paper. It's not different in any meaningful way from the "official" version you can download off the journal's website.

If you want an author's personal copy from publishers that didn't send them to you, write to the journal (or whoever sent you the proofs during production). My guess is that they're likely to provide you one for free, although different publishers may have different policies.

If you want the physical copy of the paper, then you'll have to order it. Again, write to the journal. The desk editor of the journal will know how to procure them.

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