I was trying to access this article and was told this journal is "embargoed" for more than a year. This is the first time I have seen the term embargo used in an academic setting.

This answer talks a bit about the idea of journal embargoes. Wikipedia has more information but I do not find it helpful at all.

As I read (on Wikipedia), it seems embargoes in journals are for future stories (and not for everything ever published). The article that I am seeking is from two years ago.

This question implies that embargoes deal with the relationship between publisher and author, which does not make sense in the context of my request.

This answer implies that embargoes are about limiting access electronically, but, again, it seems I can buy the article for $40 so clearly it is available electronically.

So, what exactly is an embargo (in this context)? Does it really mean that I simply have no access to this through my university account? It looks like it is available to the general public (if you pay) but not to those of us with access through university subscriptions.

  • 1
    I don't see any mention of an embargo on that page (using Ctrl+F to search for the word). Can you give some more context?
    – ff524
    Commented Jan 25, 2015 at 4:22
  • I can download it using my university subscription - its likely that it is embargoed ONLY w.r.t your university account. Voting to close since issue seems to local to a particular subscription account...
    – TCSGrad
    Commented Jan 25, 2015 at 4:25
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    @ff524 I Googled "Taylor & Francis embargo" and found the article editorresources.taylorandfrancisgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/…. In there, it says "Taylor & Francis-published journals have embargo periods of 12 months for S&T and 18 months for SSAH.". I am wondering if that's what the OP was talking about.
    – Nobody
    Commented Jan 25, 2015 at 4:40
  • @scaaahu I don't think so - that document is referring to when T&F allows an author to publish a postprint of an article in e.g. an institutional repository. It's not about the version of the article posted on T&F's website that may be downloaded by anyone with an institutional subscription.
    – ff524
    Commented Jan 25, 2015 at 4:46
  • @ff524 I was told by my librarian (who is normally excellent but currently unavailable) about the embargo. I have no link I can provide but the wording implied it was not just my account which is impacted.
    – earthling
    Commented Jan 25, 2015 at 8:36

4 Answers 4


So far as I know, your understanding of the typical use of "embargo" for journals is correct: it is when a journal wants to be the "first to press" with its article, and so places a gag order on the authors and their institutions so that they don't go talking to the press first.

There is another place where journals also often want to be "first to press," however, and I suspect that this is what "embargo" refers to in this case. It is often the case that a journal makes its content available through multiple routes: immediately through the publisher for a premium, and with time-lag through larger accumulations, such as PubMed or ScienceDirect.

Thus, I think that what is probably going on here is that your institution does not judge this journal important enough to subscribe to directly, but gets it as part of a time-lagged "package deal." You should check with your librarian how long the time-lag is, and then decide whether it's worth waiting or if you want to ask a colleague to help you get around the paywall...

  • Thanks. I did not know there were levels of subscription. Still, could it be that an article is published and 28 months later (now - Feb 2013), it is still unavailable for some subscribers to a journal? That seems an exceptionally long time.
    – earthling
    Commented Jan 25, 2015 at 9:18
  • That should be 23 months (today - Feb 2013).
    – earthling
    Commented Jan 25, 2015 at 9:28
  • 1
    @earthling Entirely possible. I just looked up that journal through my own institutional access, and saw it's in a bundle with an 18-month lag. A 24-month lag would not be so different. There may also be other contract-driven problems: talk to your librarian, who should be able to tell you what's actually going on.
    – jakebeal
    Commented Jan 25, 2015 at 13:21
  • It turns out this is exactly what is happening. My school simply has cheaper package which includes a delay. Checking a friend's account at another school (which is willing to pay more for their subscription) has full access to the article without the delay.
    – earthling
    Commented Feb 25, 2015 at 3:15
  • @earthling Glad that turned out to clear up the mystery!
    – jakebeal
    Commented Feb 25, 2015 at 4:26

Some journals have adopted a model for open-access whereby the published version is pay-to-view for a fixed period (e.g. the first year) and becomes freely available after that embargo period.

However, in this particular case, as other people (including me) have no trouble in accessing that particular article, it looks like your institution has restricted access, either to that article or that journal.

  • I understand your point but my university does subscribe to this journal. At any rate, could it be the embargo period is > 23 months (which is the time between Feb 2013 and today)?
    – earthling
    Commented Jan 25, 2015 at 9:29
  • 2
    @earthling something else is going on in this case: I can see that article just fine, through my university. I'd guess your institution has restricted access.
    – 410 gone
    Commented Jan 25, 2015 at 10:03

Embargo is often use when an academic journal authorizes the publication of its articles (usually author-versions rather than publisher-formated version) in an open repository, but only some time after publication in the journal. So, during the embargo, only paid subscriptions give access to the article, while after the embargo one can also access the article or at least a version of it on some repository (assuming that the author took advantage of this possibility, or that the publisher does it itself which is rarer).

This is much discussed when talking about green open-access (i.e. open access via author deposit on open repositories), but it may not apply to the case you describe.


Within this context it sounds like your library doesn't subscribe to this journal directly and none of the databases they subscribe to includes the current year. Journal publishers can make deals with the database publishers so that one database vendor has priority access by creating a one year embargo to a journal such that only that vendor can publish the current year, but often will offer a subscription to a set of years that has a one year delay to other database providers. The library typically pays for access to print serials, databases that host print serials, and various library consortia that provide access to interlibrary loaning services but it seems that none of these options provides access to the current year. The issue is not that the electronic access doesn't exist, but that your institution doesn't have any subscriptions or consortia connections with the vendor that made the deal.

  • correction: databases that host *electronic serials
    – bxfd82
    Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 19:46

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