Producing any scholarly work (a book, an article, a poster or presentation) is the result of a tremendous amount of time and effort on an author's part. Having your work accepted for publication is a significant achievement, but don't let the excitement lead you to give away rights that can hinder your ability to disseminate your work widely.
Typically, publishers will ask you to sign a publication agreement (sometimes called an "author agreement" or "copyright transfer agreement”). These agreements determine who owns the copyright to your work, as well as any other exclusive or non-exclusive rights of the author and publisher. It is important to know that you can negotiate with publishers to retain some of your rights. You do not need to sign everything away!
Before you sign, consider how you might want to use your work in the future. Some of these include:
Transferring all of your rights as an author to the publisher can limit your ability to do these things. Be sure to negotiate with your publisher before signing.
Have you wanted to self-archive or retain your author rights, but were concerned about how your publisher would respond? This is an example of early negotiation with publishers to enable author self-archiving.
Many journal publishers allow authors to freely and legally post a version of their published articles in an institutional archive or repository. This is called “self-archiving.” UMMS authors can use the eScholarship@UMMS repository, maintained by the Library, for self-archiving.
How to self-archive your journal article:
Publishers prohibiting inclusion may grant exceptions if the author requests it. If your journal or publisher does not give standing permission for self-archiving, ask for permission. Here is a template with sample wording to ask permission from a publisher for self-archiving an article:
Dear [insert name of publisher, rights manager or similar],
I am writing to ask permission to post a copy of an article of mine which was published in one of your journals in my institution's repository, eScholarship@UMMS.
The article is:
[authors names], [date], [title]
[journal name], [volume or number], [pages]
The institutional repository is a not-for-profit service for academic authors, providing access to the full-text of their publications. Full bibliographic details are given for each article, including the journal of original publication, etc.
If possible, I would like to use the published pdf version. The pdf version has an advantage over posting my own version, in that it maintains consistency in appearance of the article wherever it is read. This also maintains a closer association of the article with the journal, through the running headers and the journal formatting and style.
I would be grateful if you could respond at your earliest convenience to give your permission for including this article and to pass on any conditions that are associated. If it would be possible to use the published pdf version of the article for this purpose, then please confirm this.
Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to hearing from you.
If you need help with any issues related to your rights as an author, negotiating aspects of these rights with a publisher, or depositing your work into eScholarship@UMMS, librarians are available to help. Contact information is available on this page.