Understanding Your Author Rights, Part One

After the years-long process of proposing the project, collecting the data, analyzing the data, and positing conclusions, you are finally ready to share your findings with the world. But do you know what rights you have to your work, before, during, and after you submit your research for publication?

Before Publication

Even if you have yet to make your research public, it is protected under copyright. This gives you, the creator, the exclusive right to distribute, reproduce, perform and/or display publicly, and modify your work.

During Publication

Once accepted for publication, publishers routinely ask you to sign a Publication or Copyright Transfer Agreement (CTA). These are often boilerplate CTAs that ask authors to sign over their copyright wholesale. This could create barriers if you want to:

  • Use sections of your research in later works;
  • Distribute copies of your article to colleagues or students; and/or
  • Upload your article to a personal or institutional website
  • SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) provides an overview here:  http://www.sparc.arl.org/resources/authors/addendum

The good news: CTAs are, in fact, negotiable, as publishers technically do not need the full copyright in order to legally publish your work. The publisher needs:

  • The non-exclusive right to publish, distribute, and receive financial return from your article;
  • To receive attribution as the journal of first publication; and
  • Permission to migrate your article to any future formats and include in collections.

With those rights granted, you retain:

  • The right to re-use and build on your work without restrictions;
  • The ability to increase access, shareability, and citations by sharing your work online; and
  • Your attribution and citation rights as the author.

A simple way to negotiate your rights is to fill out and attach the SPARC Author Addendum (http://www.sparc.arl.org/sites/default/files/Access-Reuse_Addendum.pdf) to the CTA provided by your publisher.   Even if the publisher does not sign the addendum, publication of your article represents tacit acceptance of addendum terms.

After Publication

Depending on the specifics of your CTA, you can archive a pre-, post-, or publisher’s version of your article in ResearchWorks, University of Washington’s online institutional repository. Doing so will increase access to and visibility of your work and provide you with a permanent, stable URL to your article.

If you need additional assistance, we’re here to help! Contact Sarah Leadley, sleadley@uwb.edu, with your questions.

References & Resources

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