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, both before, during, and after you submit your research for publication?

BEFORE

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

Once accepted for publication, most publishers require that you sign a Publication or Copyright Transfer Agreement (CTA). Many journals use boilerplate CTAs that often ask authors to sign over their copyright wholesale. This is a problem if you hope to:

  • Use sections of or build off 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.

The good news: CTAs are 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.

It is also important to remember that many organizations providing grant funding also require certain types of access, archiving, and data sharing. You can easily check the requirements of major funding organizations by using SHERPA/JULIET, a UK-based database that is searchable by funder name or country of origin.

AFTER

Depending on the specifics of your CTA, you can archive a pre-print, post-print, 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, leadley@uw.edu, with your questions.

References & Resources:

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