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Scholarly Communication: Authors' Rights

This guide is for UNLV authors. It provides resources on open access, publishing, bibliometrics, and more.

Manage & Retain Your Article Copyright

When one writes an article for a scholarly journal, a chapter for a book, a monograph, or other work, the author is typically asked to sign a publication agreement or a copyright transfer agreement. The purpose of the agreement document is to transfer ownership of copyright to the publisher.

Copyright is a bundle or package of rights as described at. Scholars can “unbundle” these rights and transfer only some of them to publishers.The creator transfers ownership of the copyright, but retains the right to do specific things:   

  • include articles in coursepacks
  • place articles on a personal web site
  • archive in an institutional repository

Alternately, the author may retain copyright ownership and grant a non-exclusive license to the publisher, typically for the right of first formal publication.

These terms are negotiable with publishers, but keep in mind that your request to maintain some or all rights to your work may be declined.

Many publishers already grant rights back to authors. Your copyright transfer agreement is the ultimate source of information regarding your publication, but some information on publisher policies, particularly in regard to re-posting and sharing your work online, can be found on the SHERPA/RoMEO database.

A copyright addendum helps authors ask for certain rights for their own works. Try either of these when preparing to sign a copyright transfer agreement.

  • SPARC Author Addendum to Publication Agreement: This document includes author retention of rights; publisher commitments; and prior license acknowledgements. Fill out the agreement form; attach it with your post-print, and email to the publisher.
  • Scholar's Copyright Addendum Engine: Helps you generate a PDF form you can attach to a journal publisher's copyright agreement requesting to retain specific rights.
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