Open Access Week Day 4: Is Your Work Still Yours? Author’s Rights

whyopenWe have made it to the fourth day of Open Access Week!  At this point, we helped answer the questions What is Open Access? and What are we doing at Connecticut College?  We only have two more days left and there is still so much to discuss! This post will be devoted to author’s rights – something that concerns our entire faculty.

Does this scenario sound familiar?

“Congratulations! Your paper has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Reputable Scholarship. Please sign and return the Copyright Transfer Agreement.”

Did you know that the standard Copyright Transfer Agreement actually transfers ALL rights associated with your work to the publisher? You are, of course, giving them the right to publish the article, but often you are transferring wholesale rights to your work. You will not be able to distribute your scholarship via Digital Commons or other online repositories like ResearchGate or Academia.edu, provide copies to colleagues or students(!), or reuse parts of it in upcoming publications (like books!). This is certainly more control than the publisher needs, and likely more than you want to hand over. The agreement varies by publisher, some publishers allow you to deposit a version into the digital repository, for example. Be sure to read the document carefully.

If you are unhappy with the agreement you are asked to sign, there ARE ways to work within the existing system, publish your work in the best journals in your field, and retain rights to your work. The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) created the SPARC Author Addendum to to help you “secure your rights as the author of a journal article.” This addendum to the publisher’s agreement provides the publisher with the rights that it needs to publish your article, but allows you to retain some important rights to your work, including the right to include it in an institutional repository, reproduce it for colleagues and students, and to create derivative works. In addition, the agreement sends a message to the publisher that you value your intellectual property and desire to have the broadest readership possible.

Using the addendum is as simple as downloading a form, filling it out, and attaching it to your publisher’s agreement with a note calling attention to the addendum. The language is all there for you – no need to hire a lawyer or spend hours crafting a response to the publisher. Find out more and download the addendum here.

Tomorrow’s post, our last post for Open Access Week, will be about additional steps you can take to further the goals of open access.
Image Credit: Project 365 #303: 301009 Blink And You’ll Miss It! / Pete / CC BY

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