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Student Copyright Guide

What do I need to check for in a publisher's copyright form when I get an ouput accepted for publication

When your article, book, or book chapter is accepted for publication, you as the author will sign a form laying out the terms of the publication contract between yourself as the author and the publisher in question. These contracts are obviously legally binding and it is important you know what you are agreeing to. If a publication has resulted from funding from an external organisation, then it may be a condition of that funding that any resulting outputs are made Open Access. It is critically important that these conditions are met as sanctions may apply. Make sure you take this into consideration prior to submission to a publisher. 

  1. In most cases you will be required to assign the copyright to the publisher. Assigning the copyright to the publisher means that they own the copyright to your article for the duration of the copyright term. You retain your moral rights, i.e. the right to be identified as the owner, but the publishers hold the copyright, and you would need to seek permission for any subsequent use of your article. Most publishers prefer this option, as it removes all ambiguity as regards ownership, and allows the publishers to negotiate subsidiary licences or to act in cases of copyright infringement or plagiarism.
  2. Please remember that this is your work so it is vital that you read, understand and question anything in the contract which you are unsure of. It is also best practice to consider the implications around dissemination of your publication particularly if is it a book or book chapter. It is possible to negotiate terms in relation to Green Open Access particularly when it comes to embargo periods. If your publication is Open Access on publication, then you should retain copyright. 
  3. Occasionally a contract will specify a licence to publish instead of assignment: this means that you are granting the publisher an exclusive licence to publish your article but you retain the copyright.

The publication contract is not simply one-way: most contracts contain clauses requiring the publisher to act on your behalf in cases of copyright infringement or plagiarism; to ensure that your article is correctly catalogued and metadata-tagged to facilitate discovery by search engines; to negotiate permissions and licences for database aggregators, for example; to ensure your article is safely archived and a copy deposited in a Legal Deposit Library.

It is also important to check the contract for any clauses pertaining to Open Access or institutional repositories. The University of Derby, like most higher-education institutions, has its own institutional repository, known as UDORA. Many publishers permit authors to deposit a version of your manuscript in their institutional repository. It is likely that there may be an embargo period from the date of publication - again, it is important to check with your publisher or to check the SHERPA/RoMEO database for the particular publisher's policies.

Once a journal article has been accepted for publication, you are bound by the terms of the contract agreed between yourself and the publisher.

If you wish to re-use diagrams, illustrations or build on the research in a subsequent paper, you will need to seek permission from your publisher, as they will hold the copyright to the material.

Can I put all my published work on a website for others in my field to read?

This depends on the terms of the various contracts signed between yourself and the respective publishers. Some publishers allow a single copy of a journal article to be uploaded either to the author's personal webpage or to an institutional repository. Please ensure that you check terms and conditions to ascertain what is permitted. 

If your publisher does permit this, it is important that you check which version of your publication you may upload - the publisher's or a pre- or post-print version:

  1. The publisher's version is the specifically arranged version as it appears in the journal, including font, type-setting and layout. A few publishers will allow their PDF to be uploaded, but it is important to check. If the article has been published Open Access, it is likely that you will retain copyright allowing you to do with your work as you please. 
  2. A pre-print is the version of your journal article prior to peer-review and editing, often prior to any contact with the publisher at all. It is important you preserve this version, even after publication, as it may be the only version you are permitted to upload.
  3. A post-print or author accepted manuscript is the version of your article accepted for publication after peer-review, fact-checking, and editing - it usually differs to the published version only in format and layout.

What can I do with my research output once it is published?

Once an output (journal article or book/ book chatper) has been accepted for publication, you are bound by the terms of the contract agreed between yourself and the publisher.

In most cases your contract will likely grant you permission to upload a pre- or post-print version of your article to your own personal website or institutional repository, with an adequate disclaimer. You may not use the PDF used for publication, as the format and layout are copyrighted by the publisher. Typically, there will also be a 12 to 24 month embargo from the date of publication. Unless of course you have published your article Open Access which in most cases will allow you to retain rights to you work. 

If you wish to re-use diagrams, illustrations or build on the research in a subsequent paper, you will need to seek permission from your publisher, as they will hold the copyright to the material.

I'm funded by UKRI - how do I manage third-party content and publish Open Access?

The UKRI (UK Research and Innovation) have produced a guidance document called "Managing third-party copyright for research publications" to help researchers who are in receipt of UKRI funding, manage third-party copyright to comply with UKRI's open access policy. This explains what to do if you are including third-party content in your book chapter, monograph and edited collections in open access publications, but could also be applicable for journal articles too. Whilst this was primarily written for UKRI grantees, it covers some really good approaches for any researchers who want to know how to manage third-party content within their research.