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Publishing your Research

This guide contains information about choosing a journal, predatory publishing, author rights, and research impact.

Author Rights

After you publish your work in a journal, do you still own the copyright to your paper? 

Can you send a colleague a copy of your work through email? 

You'd like to use a chart or graphic from your paper in a presentation, are you allowed to do that?

Are you allowed to post a copy of your paper on your own website? institutional repository?

Many authors of scholarly articles may not realize it, but some journals may require that you transfer your copyright (not just of the PDF final version, but sometimes to the drafts of the article as well) to the publisher upon publication. Signing away your copyright often prevents authors from making freely available copies of their own work.


Copyright describes a bundle of rights. This bundle of rights includes the right to:

  • Distribute your work to colleagues within the university
  • Distribute your work to people outside of the university
  • Distribute your work in the classroom
  • Make derivatives of your work
  • Post the article in online repositories, such as TRUSpace, or ResearchGate

These author rights apply to your original works of authorship, whether you are faculty, staff or student.

  • You hold the copyright to your work as soon as you put it onto paper, type it onto your computer screen,  or fix it in some other media (registration is not required)
  • You hold the copyright for your lifetime plus 50 years
  • Your copyright is inheritable, or you can sign it over to another person or body

Author rights allow you to:

  • Reproduce your work (publish, make copies, reformat, etc.)
  • Create derivative works (edit or build upon an existing piece of scholarship)
  • Distribute the work (publish, republish, give away, sell, etc.)
  • Perform, display, or broadcast your work in public

Author rights are inheritable, separable, and assignable.

  • Copyright in a work may be assigned or licensed to others. All assignments and licenses of copyright must be in writing to be valid. The mere transfer of physical possession of a work does not thereby include an assignment of copyright in the work. Some publishers may ask you to sign over your copyright, so read over agreements carefully (see publisher agreements below).
  • Subsequent rights holders may assign rights in whatever way they choose

After copyright expires, the work becomes part of the public domain and may be freely copied and shared. Copyright in publications with multiple authors lasts until December 31 of the 50th year after the last author dies.

Publisher Agreements

Copyright and publishing doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Copyright transfer agreements and licenses are NEGOTIABLE. The law allows you to transfer copyright while holding back rights for yourself and others. Most publishers are willing to discuss copyright agreements with authors to enable them to meet the terms of funders' open access policies and to retain other rights.

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-print) cannot be viewed.

Contracts are not written in stone; they are dialogues between you and your 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 (see below) to your contract.

SPARC Addendum

The SPARC Addendum modifies your publishing agreement to allow you to keep certain rights:

  • reproduce the Article in any material form for non-commercial purposes
  • to perform the Article in public for non-commercial purposes
  • to convert the Article by preparing derivative works
  • to make a sound recording, cinematographic film or other contrivance by means of which the Article may be mechanically reproduced or performed for non-commercial purposes
  • to reproduce, adapt and publicly present the Article as a cinematographic film for non-commercial purposes
  • to communicate the work to the public by telecommunication for non-commercial purposes
  • to authorize others to make any non-commercial use of the Article so long as Author receives credit as author and the journal in which the Article has been published is cited as the source of first publication of the Article.

For example, Author may make and distribute copies in the course of teaching and research and may post the Article on personal or institutional Web sites and in other open access digital repositories.

How to use the addendum?

  1. Sign and date the publisher’s agreement.  Immediately below your signature on the publisher’s form, write: “Subject to attached Addendum”
  2. Note in your cover letter to your publisher that you’ve included an addendum to the agreement.
  3. Make a copy of all three documents (the publisher's form, your Addendum, and your cover letter) for your records.
  4. Mail the addendum with your publishing agreement and cover letter to your publisher

What if the publisher rejects the author addendum?

  • Explain to the publisher why it is important for you to retain these rights in your own work.
  • Ask the publisher to articulate why the license rights provided under the SPARC Author Addendum are insufficient to allow publication.
  • Evaluate the adequacy of the publisher’s response in light of the reasonable and growing need for authors to retain certain key rights to their works.

What if the publisher still says no to the addendum?

  • Consider publishing with an organization that will facilitate the widest dissemination of their authors’ works, to help them fulfill their personal and professional goals as scholars.


  • Publish your work as planned with the original publisher.

It is YOUR choice.

Open Access and Copyright

If you want to make your article accessible to more readers, publishing in an Open Access journal is one option. Another is to share your article in an online repository, such as TRUSpace. Refer to your publishing agreement to find out if you can share your article in TRUSpace or another repository, and which version you can share (preprint, postprint, or final version). Ask a librarian if you are unsure.

Academic Social Networking Sites

Not all repositories are open access repositories. When you sign up for academic social networking sites, you are granting to them very important rights to your work. It is critical to consult your publishing agreement prior to uploading a text on academic social networking sites such as ResearchGate or because different publishers allow different versions of academic papers to be uploaded to repositories and author websites: the author’s pre-print, the author’s accepted version, or the published version.

If publishers become aware that an incorrect version is being shared or an embargo is not applied then they are likely to issue take down notices or even sue authors for breach of copyright. License (last modified May 15, 2017)

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