Self-archiving is the act of depositing a free copy of a digital document on the World Wide Web in order to provide open access to it. The term usually refers to the self-archiving of peer-reviewed research journal and conference articles, as well as theses and book chapters, deposited in the author’s own institutional repository or open archive for the purpose of maximizing its accessibility, usage and citation impact.
Self-archiving is one of two general methods for providing open access. It has been called the « green » road to open access, while the other method – publishing in an open access journal – is also referred to as the « gold » road.
Self-archiving was first explicitly proposed as a universal practice by Stevan Harnad in his 1994 online posting « Subversive Proposal » (later published in Association of Research Libraries) although computer scientists had been practicing self-archiving in anonymous FTParchives since at least the 1980s (see CiteSeer) and physicists had been doing it since the early 1990s on the web (see arXiv).