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Author Rights: Understanding your rights in scholarly publishing

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Publisher agreements

Publishing your work

  • Before your book or article is published, you automatically own the copyright of the work. Publishers request that you assign, grant or license the copyright to them – temporarily or perpetually.

Publishers do this through:

  • Copyright Transfer Agreement
  • License to Publish

This agreement may grant the publisher copyright to your work and might affect subsequent permitted uses and re-uses of your work.

Read through the agreement CAREFULLY and understand what it is that you are signing.

Pre-print: the original draft that is submitted to the publisher, before peer-review
Post-print: the revised draft, after peer-review, and submitted to the publisher
Final manuscript: the version of the article as it appears in the journal
Embargo: defined period of time in which the published article (or the post-pring) cannot be viewed.


Each publisher has their own contract and language. It is vital that you understand what you are allowed to do with your work - now and into the future.

Sample license from Taylor & Francis state that:

  • YOU will undertake that only the full referenced (linking back to the journal by Taylor & Francis) will not be published elsewhere without Taylor & Francis' written consent.
  • You retain patent rights or trademark rights
  • You may only post and maintain the pre-print (the original manuscript before peer-reveiw)
  • You may post the post-print (the manuscript after peer-review) on a department website or personal website and that you MUST post a disclaimer/warning that states "The Version of Record of this manuscript has been published and is available <JOURNAL TITLE> <date of publication><article DOI>"
  • You may only post the post-print AFTER the journal embargo has elapsed (may be upwards to 18 months).
  • You may NOT post the version of the article as it appears in the journal
  • You may only share with your colleagues a print version or the digital ecopy (as provided by Taylor and Francis). If you run out of ecopies, you must as Taylor & Francis for another allotment of ecopies.
  • You may only share with your students a print copy and those print copies cannot be in a course pack or on a listserv.
  • You may talk about your research paper at a conference and distribute print only copies to delegates attending your presentation.

Contracts are not written in stone. They are a dialogue between you and the publisher. If there are clauses that you don't agree to - cross them out and initial the change to the document.  Consider appending the SPARC Addendum to your contract.