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I have recently submitted a paper to a journal. The reviewer came back with some very constructive feedback and requested some additional results to be added to the paper. Eventually, the paper was accepted but it has not appeared yet. So, I have three versions of the paper:

  • Version 1: This is the version that I submitted to the journal initially.
  • Version 2: I have added additional results based on the referee's feedback.
  • Version 3: This one was made by the journal. It is basically version 2 formatted using the Journal's template.

My understanding is that I cannot publish version 3 on Arxiv since I signed the publishing agreement, and I can publish version 1 freely. My question is: Can I publish version 2 on Arxiv?


Edit: This is an Elsevier journal, the policy says the following:

I may post the accepted manuscript in my institutional repository and make this public after an embargo period. To ensure the sustainability of peer-reviewed research in journal publications, I may not share the final article publicly, for example on ResearchGate or Academia.edu.

Based on information provided the embargo period/end date is 24 months.

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    What do the journal's policies say?
    – Anyon
    Dec 22, 2023 at 17:29
  • I have included the policy above, it included a link, which only made me more confused.
    – Tulip
    Dec 22, 2023 at 17:54
  • Yes, that link is not very helpful. Elsevier's general policy on sharing accepted manuscripts is available here, but perhaps individual journals restrict authors more.
    – Anyon
    Dec 22, 2023 at 18:14

2 Answers 2

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Elsevier is explicit that the answer is yes, you may update the material (but not the formatting) of your preprint to match the accepted version of an article, provided that you follow some minimal conditions (such as linking to the doi for the published version when that becomes available):

Accepted manuscript

Authors can share their accepted manuscript:

Immediately:

● Via their non-commercial personal homepage or blog
● By updating a preprint in arXiv or RePEc with the accepted manuscript
● Via their research institute or institutional repository for internal institutional uses, or as part of an invitation-only research collaboration work group
● Directly by providing copies to their students or to research collaborators for their personal use
● For private scholarly sharing as part of an invitation-only work group on commercial sites with which Elsevier has an agreement

...

In all cases accepted manuscripts should:

● Link to the formal publication via its DOI.
● Bear a CC-BY-NC-ND license — this is easy to do
● If aggregated with other manuscripts, for example, in a repository or other site, be shared in alignment with our hosting policy
● Not be added to or enhanced in any way to appear more like, or to substitute for, the published journal article

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    However, the page you link warns that this does not apply to all Elsevier journals: "Some society-owned titles and journals that operate double-anonymized peer review have different preprint policies — please check the journals' Guide for Authors for further information" Dec 22, 2023 at 21:11
  • @DanielHatton That caveat is part of an earlier section, and does not appear to apply to the section I quoted. In particular, the part about "journals that operate double-anonymized peer review" is clearly related to the possibility that such journals may not want authors to publicize their work prior to peer review, since that could break the double blinding procedure.
    – Buzz
    Dec 22, 2023 at 21:40
  • Can you explain why you think newly posting something is the same as updating? Nowhere in the question does it say anything about having published the article already.
    – DonQuiKong
    Dec 23, 2023 at 8:37
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As Anyon suggests, this entirely depends on your agreement with the journal and nothing else.

I've seen policies that explicitly say you can, policies that explicitly say you can't, and policies that are ambiguous. If after you read more closely any agreements you've signed you find the policy is still ambiguous, your options are:

  1. go ahead and update your preprint because you see benefit to yourself or the public in doing so and either think there is unlikely to be a dispute over it with the journal or that the ambiguity will be in your favor if there is

  2. not take the risk of a dispute for the marginal benefit of having the updated manuscript available to the world as a preprint in addition to the journal publication, or

  3. ask for clarification.

It's possible if you ask for clarification that the journal will say "no" even though the agreement you signed with them would permit you to do so if you were to take it to court. You could get a lawyer's opinion instead, but if so you should expect to pay the lawyer for their time and you'll have to decide if that's worth it.


edit: You post the policy that:

I may post the accepted manuscript in my institutional repository and make this public after an embargo period. To ensure the sustainability of peer-reviewed research in journal publications, I may not share the final article publicly, for example on ResearchGate or Academia.edu. Based on information provided the embargo period/end date is 24 months.

To interpret this, you need to know what an accepted manuscript is. From this link, Elsevier seems to interpret this as:

An accepted manuscript is the manuscript of an article that has been accepted for publication and which typically includes author-incorporated changes suggested during submission, peer review and editor-author communications. They do not include other publisher value-added contributions such as copy-editing, formatting, technical enhancements and, if relevant, pagination.

That seems to me to say "version 2" is an "accepted manuscript" and you can post it in your "institutional repository" which is not ResearchGate or Academia.edu after 2 years. If they have a more relaxed policy for "preprint servers" like arxiv rather than an "institutional repository" you would have to find that language.

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