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Learn more about how copyright applies to your scholarly publishing, such as what copyright related matters to know when publishing and how you can reuse your work after publishing.

What happens when I want to publish with a scholarly publisher?

Typically before publishing a journal article or book, you will be asked to sign a copyright assignment agreement which assigns all or part of your rights as an author over to the publisher.

Isn't copyright assignment a standard for publishing?

Copyright assignment has traditionally been part of the publishing agreement for print journals and has now been extended to electronic journals. However, the effects of copyright assignment in the present day where electronic sharing is common may potentially be restrictive for the author.

While there may not be much room for you to negotiate with the publisher in such publishing agreements, you should be mindful that assignments of copyright are perpetual and irrevocable. If there are any rights that you wish to retain (for example, a perpetual licence for you to reproduce or use your own work for non-commercial, educational purposes), this is something that you may wish to discuss with your publisher.

Is there a ready-to-use legal instrument that I can use to modify my copyright transfer agreements with journal publishers?

The SPARC Author Addendum is a legal instrument that you can use to modify your copyright transfer agreements with non-open access journal publishers. It allows you to select which individual rights out of the bundle of copyrights you want to keep, such as:

  • Distributing copies in the course of teaching and research,
  • Posting the article on a personal or institutional Web site, or
  • Creating derivative works.

Source: SPARC (2018). The SPARC Author Addendum. Last accessed on 27 Nov 2018.

What does the publisher’s copyright transfer agreement allow me to do?

Typically it should be part of the standard author agreement that you sign when publishing with the publisher. Otherwise it can be usually found on the publisher’s website.

For example, the American Physical Society has a section on publication rights, which goes into a copyright FAQ and the copyright transfer agreement. It helps to explain the copyright transfer agreement and common questions regarding it.

Is there any resource to look up a publisher’s policies?
You can check Sherpa Romeo for a particular journal title or publisher to see information on what the publisher allows you to do with the different versions of the article and if there are any conditions attached. If you’re still not sure how to use the SHERPA website, you can contact us at:
Can I upload my journal article to my website?

While many journals will allow you to upload the published or accepted version of your article to your website with the appropriate bibliographic citation and copyright credit line, some publishers may not allow it or will require an embargo.

If you’ve submitted a version of your article to NTU’s institutional repository DR-NTU, you can also use your article’s handle link in your website. If you’re still not sure how to submit your article or link it, you can contact us at:

Can I reuse my journal article in my thesis?

As the original author of the journal article, almost all journal publishers will allow you to reuse all or part of the article in your thesis, either without asking for permission or going through RightsLink. You should always check the terms of the agreement with your publisher. If you want to learn more about using RightsLink, click here.

In either case, always remember to provide the appropriate bibliographic citation and copyright credit line in your thesis. However sometimes there is no clear answer even in the terms & conditions. In such a case, it would be good to contact the journal for clarification.

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