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Manage Your Rights

As an author you own the rights to your work, which gives you exclusive control as to how your work is reproduced, distributed, or performed. However, during the publication process you may be asked to give away some or all of your exclusive rights.

Understanding the implications of retaining or giving away your rights can determine who can read your work, whether you can use it in your future work, and whether you can legally distribute it in class or to colleagues. If you transfer your copyright, you no longer have control over how your work is used or distributed.

Watch: Managing author rights (Faculty Workshop / Spring 2013)

What You Can Do

  • Modify the publisher agreement so that you retain more of your rights. The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) provides an author’s addendum, which is a legal document, that you can attach to a publisher agreement. See: http://www.arl.org/sparc/author/addendum.shtml. The Science Commons website also offers a web service that will help you generate a personalized version of this addendum, and offers a variety of options (In case of doubt, choose "MIT Amendment").
  • Submit your articles to publishers that have more expansive copyright policies. "SHERPA RoMEo: Publisher Copyright Policies and Self-Archiving" summarizes many of these publisher policies. Green publishers have the least restrictive copyright policies, meaning that you would have the freedom to include both pre- and post-prints of your work on your own web page or in repositories.
  • Use a Creative Commons license to make your work available. A Creative Commons license works within copyright law, but lets you decide how others may use and share your work.
  • SPARC lists numerous alternative publishing options. See: http://www.arl.org/sparc/author/options.shtml

Federally Funded Research

On January 11, 2008, the National Institutes of Health announced its Revised Policy on Enhancing Public Access to Archived Publications Resulting from NIH-Funded Research, which placed a new reporting requirement on NIH-funded researchers that took effect on April 7, 2008. The final, peer-reviewed manuscripts of all articles arising from NIH-funded research that are accepted for publication on or after that date must be submitted to PubMed Central, where they will be freely accessible. PubMed Central is NIH's digital archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature. See Georgetown University’s NIH Access Policy for further details regarding compliance and submission.