Western Libraries

Understanding Author Agreements

Know Your Rights!

Many authors of scholarly articles do not realize that journals and publishers require that one's copyright be signed over to them to publish one's work. Signing away your copyright may prevent you from posting your own work on personal websites or electronic course reserves.  For a good overview see the SPARC Author Rights video. This brief video, produced by the Institute on Scholarly Communication in association with SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), explains how researchers can maximize exposure and dissemination for their peer-reviewed article manuscripts.

For more information please contact your librarian or or email the Scholarly Communciation team.

Things to consider before:

How to find journal and publisher policies on copyright

You are choosing where to publish a manuscript and want to know more about publisher and journal policies: You can easily find and compare policies with the Sherpa/Romeo database. The Sherpa/Romeo database is a useful resource for locating publishers’ copyright and editorial policies. To be on the safe side, also verify journal copyright policies by consulting the journals website and if it’s still not clear, contact the editorial staff directly or consult with your liaison librarian. Verify whether you have permission to archive the post-print within 12 months after the publication date in order to abide with a funder’s policy.

The Directory of Open Access Journals contains over 10,000 peer-reviewed Journals on a wide variety of subjects. The aim of the DOAJ is to increase the visibility and ease of use of open access scientific and scholarly journals, thereby promoting their increased usage and impact. The DOAJ aims to be comprehensive and cover all open access scientific and scholarly journals that use a quality control system to guarantee the content. In short, the DOAJ aims to be the one-stop shop for users of open access journals.

Negotiate and retain your rights

Typically, when a publisher accepts your manuscript and you will be asked to sign the publisher's standard Copyright Transfer agreement.  Yet, to publish a publisher only requires the author's permission, also called a non-exclusive license to publish, and not the wholesale transfer of rights. Why sign a copyright transfer agreement that restricts access to your hard work?
  • You can negotiate to retain more rights.
  • 1. Scrutinize the Copyright Transfer Agreement
  • 2. Negotiate with the Publisher: transferring copyright doesn't have to be all or nothing
  • 3. Retain the Rights You Need: Value Your Intellectual Property

To assist you in retaining your rights, you may wish to consult Information for Authors from the Canadian Association of Research Libraries and then use the SPARC Canadian Author's Addendum to Publication Agreement. This tool can guide authors in making the best decisions regarding their publication options.

I have already published in a journal of my choosing, but I have to meet an Open Access requirement for the funding agency

Place a copy of the paper in an open access disciplinary repository, such as PubMed Central, or SocArXiv, or Western Libraries open access Institutional Repository (IR)  Scholarship@Western. Most publishers will allow the preprint or the final peer-reviewed version, also known as the Author Accepted Manuscript version or Post Print, to be hosted in an IR.  This is known as green open access and meets the requirements of most open access obligations required by grants.

For more information on the see the Tri-Agency Open Access Policy - What it means for Western's grant recipients, and as well you are always welcome to contact your librarian or or email the Scholarly Communciation team.

For more information on Tri-Agency Open Access requirements

CIHR, NSERC & SSHRC Opne access requirements

For more information on NIH Public/Open Access requirements

NIH Open Access Requirements

For more information on copyright

Copyright @ Western (includes a Fair Dealing Analysis section)
Copyright resources and services available at Western. This copyright webportal provides access to resources and services to assist in clarifying these privileges and obligations for the Western Community. It is designed to offer general copyright information and education not legal advice 

Learn about Creative Commons guide, via the UBC Creative Commons guide,  CC BY-SA 4.0 

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Creative Commons is a non-profit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools.

Creative Commons Interactive Tool