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Scholarly Communication: Author Rights

Publishing Alternatives

You may be aware of alternatives to traditional publishing such as blogs, podcasts, videos, and books placed in the public domain. But by far you can exert the most control by publishing in an open-access journal or book with a Creative Commons license.  

SPARC, Scholarly Publishing and Resources Coalition, describes open access as:

"Open Access is the free, immediate, online availability of research articles coupled with the rights to use these articles fully in the digital environment. Open Access ensures that anyone can access and use these results—to turn ideas into industries and breakthroughs into better lives."                                                                                                                     

Hence Open Access provides academics and research new avenues of publishing and sharing their research in venues that don't live behind paywalls that fewer people are able to access. Examples of some of these collections include:

PubMedCentral -  "a free full-text archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature at the U.S. National Institutes of Health's National Library of Medicine (NIH/NLM)"

Project MUSE - " open access (OA) books and journals from several distinguished university presses and scholarly societies."

JSTOR and Artstor - open access journal articles, books, images, and media

Check out the UWF Institutional Repository page for additional places to upload your papers.

Author's Rights - U Institute on Scholarly Communication in association with SPARC



Boatwright Library. (2017). Authors Rights.

Know Your Rights

As the author of a manuscript for a journal or book, you have a distinct body of rights. First and most importantly until otherwise indicated you hold the copyright to your work. This means that you can use your work in any manner you deem acceptable. In your courses, website, blogs, podcasts, etc... In essence, you control access to your work. 



Author's Rights and Copyright. (2020). Illinois Library.


It is when your manuscript is published that everything may change. Most often authors sign copyright transfer agreements. That is you give up your copyright rights to the publisher. They then control the access to your work regardless of whether you agree unless you are willing to negotiate your contract (see the box below). To gain a better sense of what you can or can't do you can check the Sherpa/Romeo database for a journal or publisher to see what you are allowed to do with your published work, the information includes but is not limited to: versions, embargoes, and types of repositories. 

Negotiate Your Contract

Rather than give up all of your rights you can negotiate your publishing contract.  You have nothing to lose and much to gain such as:

  • the right to use copies in your courses
  • the right to deposit a copy in multiple repositories
  • the right for limited distribution (colleagues, collaborators)
  • the right to have a copy attached to an online CV or in web sites like Linked-In.

In order to keep these rights, you will have to do some work.  Most often this may take the form of a Contract Addendum. Below are links to documents you can use as-is or modify. 

For additional information check out the following resources