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Scholarly Communication

Resources for scholarly publishing, author rights and maximizing the impact of your research.

What Rights Do I Have?

As soon as your work is in a tangible form (a Word document, a web site, a recording), the rights are yours.  You own the right to:

• reproduce your work
• distribute your work
• prepare derivative works
• publicy display or perform your work
• authorize others to do any of the above

You do not have to register your work to obtain copyright, but registration can help in the event of copyright infringement or other legal issues.

You own the rights for your life plus 70 years.

You can give away or sell any or all of your rights.  Giving up your rights may limit access to and impact of your work.

Some publishers require you to sign away your rights, but you have options.

You can keep your copyright, and grant exclusive or non-exclusive licesnes so others can use your work.

How Can I Keep My Rights?


Many publishers allow you to keep some or all of your rights so you can reuse your work in the ways you want, such as publishing a copy to Constellation, Dominican's online repository of scholarlship.  Always read the publishers' agreement before signing it so you know exactly what rights the publisher wants.

Remember: publishers' do not need your copyright.  They just need permission/license from you to publish your work.

Below are ways you can keep your rights:

• Publish in a journal that does not require you give away your rights

Use SHERPA / RoMeo "to find a summary of permissions that are normally given as part of each publisher's copyright transfer agreement."  Each publisher is given a color code based on the number and nature of the rights the publisher allows you to keep.

• Publish in an open access journal

The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) provides a list of peer-reviewed open access journals - journals that do no require a subscription for access and are openly available through the web - and allows you to search many of those at article level.  Open access journals do not require you to transfer your copyright to the publisher.

• Attach an author addendum to the publisher's agreement that indicates you are keeping some or all of your rights

The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) provides an addendum that protects your rights to access and re-use your work.  Print it here.  A publisher is not obligated to accept your addendum.  If the publisher does not accept it, explain your position and why you need to retain your rights.  If the publisher still doesn't accept it, consider publishing elsewhere.

• Choose what permissions you grant to others regarding the access and re-use of your work and create your own license

Use a Creative Commons license to  clearly define what rights you are keeping and what rights you are sharing.  The conditions in the licenses run from "no rights reserved" to "all rights reserved."  All licenses include proper attribution to you.  Create your license here.


Additional Author Rights Resources