Is the APA trying to take your science down?

Dear Psychologist,

If you have published in an APA (American Psychological Association) journal and posted the article PDF to a website, you may have already received an email from APA lawyers asking you to take that PDF down:

Dear Sir/Madam,

I write on behalf of the American Psychological Association (APA) to bring to your attention the unauthorized posting of final published journal articles to your website. Following the discussion below, a formal DMCA takedown request is included with URLs to the location of these articles.

The APA is likely within their legal rights here, but there is a way to continue making your work freely available to the world. Upload the final accepted version of your article (your final revised Word document, if you wrote your paper in Word) to your website or, better, to the university repository or to another repository such as PsyArXiv (I am on the Steering Committee of PsyArXiv). Your personal website is not the best option because personal websites tend to be transient, not always properly indexed by the likes of Google Scholar, and some publishers don’t allow posting to personal websites but do allow posting to repositories.

The APA policy allowing upload to repositories says that you must add the following note to the version you post:

© 2016 American Psychological Association. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. Please do not copy or cite without author’s permission. The final article is available, upon publication, at: [ARTICLE DOI]

As the note says, the APA owns the copyright to your paper, not you. Many of us would like to see science transition to open access publishing, in which we do not sign our copyright away. You have probably noticed some success on this front in the domain of starting new journals (e.g., the open-access journal PLOS ONE rapidly became the largest journal in the world). Changing existing journals is harder because often the publisher owns the journal, even though the editorial board and authors provide all the content that makes the journal what it is. PsyOA is an initiative staking out the principles that we call Fair Open Access and provides information to editors and scholarly societies interested in moving their journal from subscription basis to open access.



2 thoughts on “Is the APA trying to take your science down?

  1. euhm… would it not be more appropriate to take the journals down instead of our articles with our ideas and only publish to our university or personal webpages? I am sure we can come up with an entanglement of search strings or a central repository that links all that together. Full rights to our own ideas. And yes, happy to pay to external parties for the proof reading and type setting service. But I guess we can hire those within our university contexts… Time to change the job profiles, or time to get rid of those no longer needed in a virtually connected world.

    • Personal and university personal webpages are transient (often disappear after 5 years or so), so the linking together you refer to has been established by metadata standards for university and external repositories such as and People should be posting their formatted manuscript there. Fortunately that can happen even as many academics will continue to give away copyright to their articles because they feel they must publish in legacy journals in order to get promoted, get grants, and have their articles certified as having prestige.

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