The Elsevier policies state:

Authors can share their accepted manuscript: by updating a preprint in arXiv or RePEc with the accepted manuscript

I haven’t arxived a preprint; the paper is published already; yet I’d still like to arxive the accepted version – does above sentence imply that I’m only allowed to update an existing Arxiv entry but not create a new one now?

IEEE policies have a similar phrasing:

  1. Electronic Preprints. Before submitting an article to an IEEE publication, authors frequently post their manuscripts to their own web site, their employers site, or to another server that invites constructive comment from colleagues.Upon submission of an article to IEEE, an author is required to transfer copyright in the article to IEEE, and the author must update any previously posted version of the article with a prominently displayed IEEE copyright notice. Upon publication of an article by the IEEE, the author must replace any previously posted electronic versions of the article with either (1) the full citation to the IEEE work with a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) or link to the article abstract in IEEE Xplore, or (2) the accepted version only (not the IEEE-published version), including the IEEE copyright notice and full citation, with a link to the final, published article in IEEE Xplore.
  • When in doubt, you can always arxive the preprint now, and update it with the accepted manuscript a few days later.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Nov 15, 2015 at 10:17
  • I was recommending to look into the actual copyright agreement, but then I checked one and it contained the same weird phrasing.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Nov 15, 2015 at 10:30
  • In general, if arxiving pre-prints is allowed (e.g. after consulting the Sherpa/Romea database), then it doesn't matter at what stage of the publication process one arxives the pre-print, i.e. the version initially sent to the journal/conference? Then again for post-prints arxiving may be generally allowed but the policies may contain this weird "update" phrasing -- then arxiving pre- and then post-print should be fine? I'm trying to understand this in general, to begin arxiving from now on, but many questions (e.g. double-blind review) remain open :-) Commented Nov 15, 2015 at 10:34
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    Elsevier. Elsevier clarifies in the following news post journals.elsevier.com/theoretical-computer-science/news/… which I guess then applies to the other journals employing the same Elsevier policies. Not sure whether all publishers need to be checked individually -- haven't found specific information from IEEE. Commented Nov 15, 2015 at 12:25
  • 2
    "To submit a manuscript in arXiv, the author can either grant ArXiV the non exclusive right to distribute the article or use a CC-BY or CC-BY-NC-SA license (arxiv.org/help/license). Since with CC-BY-NC-ND user license, authors can grant ArXiv the right to distribute the paper, accepted articles from Elsevier’s journals can be posted on arXiv within their policy." elsevier.com/about/company-information/policies/policy-faq Hence, postprint can just be arxived under CC-BY? Commented Nov 15, 2015 at 15:26

2 Answers 2


I do not have a definitive answer, but I have considered the matter and came to the conclusion that you can only update an already arXived preprint, not arXive it fresh after publication. Note that as far as Elsevier is concerned, this is a recent change, which happened when they revised their whole copyright agreement. Thus decade long habits may not apply anymore. Or maybe they do, because if there is one clear thing, it is that Elsevier's policy has been significantly obfuscated.

However, there are some countries (France shall join them soon) where by law, one can post their postprints on a repository after an embargo whatever the copyright agreement says. Many publishers also allow this (but embargoes are several years long for some Elsevier journals, if I remember well).


Technically, you can do the following.

  1. Submit an empty page as preprint to Arxiv. This clearly does not violate anyone's copyright.
  2. Update the empty preprint with the accepted manuscript. This is explicitly allowed by Elsevier.
  3. Profit!
  • How do you profit? That implies you are getting financial gain. Maybe "befit from sharing your research"? Commented Oct 26, 2017 at 20:53
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    @RichardErickson It's just a common internet meme/joke to add "3. ??? 4. Profit" to lists. Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 6:18
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    You cannot submit an empty page, it gets reviewed (moderated) by Arxiv exactly to filter out such submissions.
    – yarchik
    Commented May 4, 2022 at 5:41

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