Answered By: The Library
Last Updated: Aug 30, 2022     Views: 100

Traditional publication agreements usually require authors to relinquish all rights, including copyright, to the journal in which their article is published. In Open Access (OA) publishing, you have more options to keep your copyright. But there are methods for keeping your copyright even with traditional publishing.

Know Your Rights as an Author:

  • The SPARC Author Addendum is a legal instrument that you can use to modify your copyright transfer agreements with non-open access journal publishers.
  • SHERPA/RoMEO is an online resource that aggregates and analyses publisher open access policies and provides summaries of self-archiving permissions and conditions of rights given to authors. Use the SHERPA/RoMEO publisher copyright policies & self-archiving search tool to determine the appropriate journal title and whether it allows you to keep your rights.
  • Creative Commons provides free, easy-to-use copyright licenses to make a simple and standardised way to give the public permission to share and use the creative work-on conditions of your choice.  
  • The licenses include options for creators to retain copyright while allowing others to copy, distribute, and make some use of their work - at least non-commercially. 

When you sign a publisher agreement ("Copyright Transfer Form"), you can decide which rights you want to keep and which you want to give away. For example, a publisher requires your permission only to publish your paper, not the wholesale transfer of your rights as an author.

Before you sign, you should scrutinise your publisher agreement and consider the following:

  • The rights you want to retain.
  • The ways you want to use and develop your work without restriction.
  • How to increase access to your work for educational and research purposes.
  • You have the right to be properly attributed when your work is used.
  • You have the right to deposit your work in an online archive or repository.
  • Your publisher's rights for a non-exclusive licence to publish and distribute your work for a financial return.
  • Your publisher's right to be properly attributed and cited.
  • Your publisher's right to migrate your work to future formats and include it in collections.

If you choose to publish using the traditional route, you will be asked by the publisher to sign a form transferring some (or all) of your copyright to that publisher. However, publishers only need your permission to publish an article.

An Author Addendum is a legal document that modifies the publisher's agreement and allows you to keep the rights to your work. Read the publisher agreement with great care. Ensuring a balanced approach to copyright management is up to you.

The SPARC Author Rights brochure is available to help you use the SPARC Author Addendum to effectively manage your rights as a journal article author to ensure your article can be accessed and used as broadly as possible.

For further information, see Author Rights & The SPARC Author Addendum.