Fight for Your Rights (As an Author)!

As we near the end of the summer, faculty members are thinking about publishing those articles they’ve been working on in between preparing new courses, study abroad trips with students, and the occasional day at the beach. Deciding where to publish an article is often a complex choice: scholars consider the needs of their audience, the peer review process, specialty areas for a particular publisher or journal, and, of course, the reach and potential impact of a particular journal.

Another thing many authors are beginning to consider when looking for a home for their new scholarship is the rights they’re required to give up to publish their articles. After peer review and editing, many publishers require authors to sign a copyright transfer agreement to have their articles appear in journals. The rights that authors must transfer to the journal range from their right to post their own work on a public website to the right to distribute their article to a class. Not only does this make it difficult for authors to use their own scholarship in teaching and further research, it limits others’ access to that research as well. The less researchers can share their work publicly, the less access the public and other researchers have to that work.

In recent years, however, many authors have begun to negotiate with publishers to retain their copyrights. They do this with forms like the SPARC Author Addendum, which modifies the publisher’s contract so that authors retain the rights they want. This might allow them to archive their work in an open online repository, where anyone with an internet connection can access it. Authors benefit by freeing their work from behind journal paywalls and making it more accessible, and disciplines benefit from having easier access to more up-to-date research.

If you’re an author interested in retaining your rights when you publish, you can learn more about how by visiting our subject guide on scholarly communication, or by contacting the Digital Initiatives Librarian.

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