Before digital publishing, authors had only one track to sharing their work: submitting their article to a scholarly journal, where it was reviewed by an editorial or peer-reviewed board, revised several times, and eventually published in a print volume and mailed to subscribers.
Technology has disrupted the traditional publishing model, and digital publishing options have not only changed the way information is exchanged, but also sparked discussions about whether the rules that govern traditional publishing can—or should—be transferred to a digital environment.
Authors today have more choices to make about where, when, and how their work is disseminated:
This guide is intended to provide researchers with the information they need to evaluate publishing options, address copyright concerns, and successfully promote themselves and their work.
As the author, you are also the copyright holder. When your article is reviewed and accepted for publication, you will be asked to sign a standard agreement that transfers most, or all of your rights to the publisher. Decisions about the use of the work (distribution, access, pricing, updates, and use restrictions) belong to the copyright holder (now the publisher), and your attempts to share your own work with colleagues and students, in print or electronic formats, may not be permitted.
However, transferring copyright doesn't have to be all or nothing. You can transfer some rights while retaining others. Most faculty want to maintain the right to use and develop their own work without restriction: to use it for teaching, to continue research on the subject, receive attribution, and archive their work.
Standard publishing contracts may ask you to transfer all of your rights, but all they need to publish is a non-exclusive right to publish and sell the work, receive attribution and citation as the first place of publication, the ability to migrate the work to future formats, and the right to include it in its collections. You can modify or addend your contract with a publisher to retain the rest of your rights.
You can also choose to publish your article in an open access journal. Many are peer-reviewed and have excellent impact factors. They publish scholarly literature and provide it free of charge to users, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. Users can read, download, copy, distribute, print, or link to your articles, as long as they are properly attributed. Your consent, as the author and copyright holder, is needed, and you retain the right to block distribution of mangled or misattributed copies. This is how you maintain control over your work. Or, self-archive your work in a disciplinary or the CSU-Pueblo digital repository. These repositories are harvested by search engines and freely accessible to users.
Authors can negotiate with publishers to retain certain rights. You may want to retain:
You can use an author addendum by following these steps:
If you transferred full copyright to the publisher at the time of publication, your right to re-use content for teaching, archiving, or new publications may be restricted. To determine your rights, do the following:
For published books and monographs, Understanding Rights Reversion: When, Why & How to Regain Copyright and Make Your Book More Available provides guidance on how to increase your book's availability by bringing out-of-print books back into print, or converting them to eBook formats and publishing them online.
Before signing a contract with a publisher, read it carefully to understand what rights you are transferring. Remember—you are in control. Your manuscript is your intellectual property, and the publisher is asking you to give up ownership in order to sell it to others. While you are going to have to give them certain rights, you don't have to give them everything.
Negotiating with a publisher can be an easy process, as long as you remember to do the following:
Based on Negotiating Guide from ASU Libraries.