Licensing

cc-zero.png   This article is licensed under CC0 for maximum reuse. 

This help guide provides an overview of licensing research data and materials and how to license your project, registration or preprint on OSF. 

Note: COS does not provide suggestions on the best licensing to use. Use the references below to decide which license best applies to your research. 

Table of Contents

Why license your work?

Planning to license your data, materials, code, and supplemental materials should be part of any research output that will be shared. If you share your research without a license, you are not making clear how you wish the research to be used which might prevent it being used the way you intend. How research reuse rights are treated varies by place and context, so reusers need clear signals from researchers on what they can and cannot do with their research.

What license should I choose?

The Center of Open Science is not best positioned to recommend a specific license for your research. You should select a license that best fits your research, organization, and co-authors. You can use the resources provided below to help you with your decision.

Choosing a license

We urge you to choose a license best aligned with your research needs. If you are not sure what license to apply to your work, see  https://choosealicense.com for help. The following information has been adapted from the Digital Curation Centre and may also help you determine the best license for your particular use case:

Learn your obligations

  • Check for funder obligations. Some funders recommend or oblige particular licenses for the research they fund.
  • Check for data repository obligations. Some data centers and repositories require those using their services to adopt a particular licence.
  • Check for local policy or institutional obligations. Some institutions have their own licences for research conducted at the institution.
  • Consider multiple-licensing if your obligations are non-exclusive. If you are obliged to use a certain licence that is non-exclusive, you can consider providing an additional version of your research under a different licence.
  • Check the requirements for the country and location where you gathered and analyzed your data. You may be required to hold specific standards and should select a license that fulfills that requirement.

Types of Licenses

The Public Domain

The public domain allows licensed materials to be used freely, waiving all copyright interests and rights. This means you will have no control over how your data and materials are used or protected. Removing the limitations of licenses makes integrating data into current research more attractive and affordable, maximizing the impact of your work..


If you have completed your analysis on your data, consider releasing it to the public to maximize its impact in research. Make sure your intentions are clear so the public can confidently reuse your data. However, consider using the other licenses if you are still working with your data. 


Consider using community norms rather than legal measures to control the reuse of your data. There are examples of research communities that successfully rely on community norms to promote respectful reuse of data. For example, the Polar Information Commons (PIC) recommends sharing polar data as CC0 (public domain) and includes a list of community norms for both users and data contributors that promote quality data sharing and respectful reuse.

 

This lesson is based on the excellent resource by the Digital Curation Centre.

Citation: Ball, A. (2014). ‘How to License Research Data’. DCC How-to Guides. Edinburgh: Digital Curation Centre. Available online: http://www.dcc.ac.uk/resources/how-guides.


Creative Commons Licenses 

Creative Commons (CC) licenses provide control over how data and materials may be used instead of declaring it public domain or reserving all rights. These licenses include an “attribution” condition which requires those reusing your data to give you credit. There are 3 other conditions available to refine these licenses. You can view more information on this license in the “Creative Commons” section at DCC

Project Licenses

What does this License Apply to?

A license on a project applies to the project’s files, components, and wiki. A new registration created from a project will inherit the project’s licenses, but can be changed.

Projects List of Licenses

Below is a list of licenses available on OSF projects. Learn more about the most commonly used licenses at Open Source Initiative, Creative Commons, and Choose a License.

No license

Content

    CC0 1.0 Universal

    CC-By Attribution 4.0 International

Code - Permissive

    MIT License

    Apache License 2.0

    BSD 2-Clause “Simplified” License

    BSD 3-Clause “New”/”Revised” License

Code - Copyleft

    GNU General Public License (GPL) 3.0

    GNU General Public License (GPL) 2.0

Code - Other

    Artistic License 2.0

    Eclipse Public License 1.0

    GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) 3.0

    GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) 2.1

Other

How to Select a License in OSF Projects

For OSF Projects, you can add a license or upload your own license. Please refer to our License Your Project help guide for full details.

Preprint Licenses

What does this License Apply to?

A license on Preprints applies to the preprint only. Supplemental files uploaded with the preprint will be placed into an OSF Project and the project license will apply to them. Links to data or any outside sources will not be covered by the Preprint license; therefore, we encourage you to apply a license to these links and other materials so they are used appropriately.

OSF Preprint List of Licenses

Below is a list of licenses available on OSF preprints. Learn more about the most commonly used licenses at Open Source Initiative, Creative Commons, and Choose a License.

CC0 1.0 Universal

CC-By Attribution 4.0 International

Branded Preprints List of Licenses

Each branded preprint provider selects from the full list of available licenses (see below) which to offer for submissions to their repository; therefore, you may see a subset when submitting your preprint to a branded preprint provider. Learn more about the most commonly used licenses at Open Source Initiative, Creative Commons, and Choose a License.

No license

Content

    CC0 1.0 Universal

    CC-By Attribution 4.0 International

Code - Permissive

    MIT License

    Apache License 2.0

    BSD 2-Clause “Simplified” License

    BSD 3-Clause “New”/”Revised” License

    Artistic License 2.0

Code - Copyleft

    GNU General Public License (GPL) 3.0

    GNU General Public License (GPL) 2.0

Code - Other

    Artistic License 2.0

    Eclipse Public License 1.0

    GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) 3.0

    GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) 2.1

How to Select a License in OSF Preprints

You will also be prompted to add a license when submitting a preprint on OSF. Our preprint help guide has instructions on how to upload a preprint.

Registration Licenses

What does this License Apply to?

A license on Registrations applies to any information and files submitted with the registration.

OSF Registry List of Licenses

Below is a list of licenses available for registrations submitted to OSF Registries. Learn more about the most commonly used licenses at Open Source Initiative, Creative Commons, and Choose a License.

No license

Content

    CC0 1.0 Universal

    CC-By Attribution 4.0 International

Code - Permissive

    MIT License

    Apache License 2.0

    BSD 2-Clause “Simplified” License

    BSD 3-Clause “New”/”Revised” License

    Artistic License 2.0

Code - Copyleft

    GNU General Public License (GPL) 3.0

    GNU General Public License (GPL) 2.0

Code - Other

    Artistic License 2.0

    Eclipse Public License 1.0

    GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) 3.0

    GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) 2.1


Branded Registry List of Licenses

Licenses for moderated registrations will be unique to each branded registry. Each branded registry selects from the full list of available licenses (see below) which to offer for submissions to their registry, therefore you may see a subset when submitting your registration to a branded registry provider. Learn more about the most commonly used licenses at Open Source Initiative, Creative Commons, and Choose a License. If you do not see any information on the licenses available for your registration, contact support@osf.io

No license

Content

    CC0 1.0 Universal

    CC-By Attribution 4.0 International

Code - Permissive

    MIT License

    Apache License 2.0

    BSD 2-Clause “Simplified” License

    BSD 3-Clause “New”/”Revised” License

    Artistic License 2.0

Code - Copyleft

    GNU General Public License (GPL) 3.0

    GNU General Public License (GPL) 2.0

Code - Other

    Artistic License 2.0

    Eclipse Public License 1.0

    GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) 3.0

    GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) 2.1

How to select a license in OSF and Branded Registries

Our registration help guides have instructions on how to submit a registration, preregistration and branded registration.

Licenses that are affiliated with a project are automatically uploaded when that project is submitted for a registration. If a license has not been selected for a project, then you will be prompted to add a license when submitting a registration on OSF. Note that projects and registrations can have different licenses.

Resources

cc-zero.png   This article is licensed under CC0 for maximum reuse. 

Did this answer your question? Thanks for the feedback There was a problem submitting your feedback. Please try again later.

Still need help? Contact Us Contact Us