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Creative Commons Licences

Which license to choose for the publication of a scientific article?

In its Open Access Policy, the UNIGE asks authors to "choose the least restrictive license among those proposed" (art. 9), which is the CC-BY license.   


A licence is a contract in which the author specifies the terms of use of their work and grants non-exclusive rights of use, while retaining their prerogatives as author. This involves, for example, granting rights of distribution, reproduction or modification of the work.

The licences most commonly used in the scientific publishing world are the Creative Commons (CC) licences.

They are composed of 4 elements that can be combined:


BY (Attribution)

The author of the work must be cited and the changes made in the derivative work compared to the original work must be indicated.


SA (ShareAlike)

Derivative works must be released under the same licence.


NC (NonCommercial)

Only non-commercial exploitation of the work is permitted.


ND (NoDerivatives)

Modifications or adaptations of the work are not permitted.


There is also the CC0 licence. When you choose this licence, you remove all barriers to re-use and place your work in the public domain.

Details of the Creative Commons licences and the obligations and prohibitions associated with each are listed in a summary table.

For scientific publications, the generally recommended licence is CC-BY.

If you are hesitating between CC BY and CC BY-NC-ND, this blog post is for you.