I'm a co-editor for an open-access journal (in geography), which is listed on the DOAJ. The scientific committee is somewhat doubtful about the recent change of prerequisites of the DOAJ, especially the mandatory use of a license permitting "content remix"(CC-BY).

I'd like to know if this type of license is frequent or common in your scientific and geographic areas ?

1 Answer 1


Short answer - CC-BY is most common in OA generally but it's not ubiquitous, and you'd not be alone if you didn't use it.

It's certainly a topic of some debate. Generally speaking, humanities academics/journals are more concerned about it than the sciences (see eg the Royal Historical Society position. Concerns about commercial reuse (NC) are usually more common than about derivatives (ND).

CC-BY is by now more or less the standard in the sciences. Almost all all-OA titles that I've dealt with in the earth sciences & biological sciences use this as the default, though there are a small handful that use CC-BY-NC or CC-BY-NC-ND as their standard license (CC-BY-ND is rare), and a few that run on a more traditional "no license but we're always free to read" basis. I have seen CC-0 and CC-BY-SA papers but this is very unusual.

Hybrid titles (subscription journals with a per-article OA option) tend to have more mixed arrangements, with some offering only CC-BY, some a choice of CC licenses, some a generic "free to read" option, etc. Hybrid titles published by the major commercial publishers tend to have a one-size-fits-all license policy regardless of their subject matter.

Some numbers to illustrate this: in 2014 my institution published 93 CC-BY papers, six CC-BY-NC, and four CC-BY-NC-ND. Four of the NC(-ND) papers were in hybrid titles with a choice of license, the others were required by journal policy. As noted, this is a mix of publishing in the earth & biological sciences.

Meanwhile, much of the drive for licensing comes from funding agencies. These tend to either (a) require the CC-BY license (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome Trust, Research Councils UK), or (b) not specify a license as such (NSF, HEFCE). UK funders have been more aggressive about specifying a fixed license than US ones.

  • FWIW the major journals in physics seem split between CC-BY, hybrid open access, and traditional all-rights-reserved. Then again we have arXiv.
    – David Z
    Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 13:03
  • The arXiv has the option for CC-BY, but uptake is low, because the default option says, essentially, "pick me, if you don't know what the others mean". Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 14:39
  • @DavidZ Physics also has the SCOAP3 program, one of the more creative models for delivering large-scale OA (& all CC-BY, I think). Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 16:31
  • Thanks for that comprehensive answer, Andrew. The CC-BY-ND is not uncommon. Our concern is mainly about intellectual property of original content, as our journal contains many original illustrations in vector format (ie. easy to reuse). For us, the motive to use a CC license is to clarify the subject with an international standard, and to participate in OA directories. We will continue our research about the licenses used by other journals. Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 13:31
  • @LaurentJégou - to clarify, CC-BY-ND is certainly uncommon in the scientific fields I've dealt with; it's rarely offered as an option by journals and I don't recall encountering many examples of papers using this license. I can't speak to other fields, of course! Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 16:55

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