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Resources to Support Academic Writing and Publication: Author Rights

The Publishing Contract

Congratulations!   If you've had an article or other professional manuscript accepted for publication you are probably aware of the publishing contract that comes along with it.  Usually publishers send a standard contract for you to sign before your manuscript can go to print.  You have the right to read, change, and negotiate this contract before you sign!  Much like a job offer, once you have been accepted you should try to get the best deal you can!

Remember: The more people that can access your work, the more readily it can be cited.  The cost of many journals can make your work inaccessible to institutions and researchers that can't afford the subscription fee.

Know your Rights as the Author

Funder Mandates on Open Access

NIH Public Access Policy (This policy applies to anyone who is granted funds from the NIH for their research)

If your goal is simply to secure the right to deposit your article in NIH’s PubMed Central, NIH suggests inserting the following language into the publisher’s agreement:

“Journal acknowledges that Author retains the right to provide a copy of the final manuscript to NIH, upon acceptance for Journal publication or thereafter, for public archiving in PubMed Central as soon as possible after publication by Journal.”


The SPARC Initiative from the Assocaition of College and Research Libraries

Local Policies

Research Sharing Sites


Steps to adding an addendum to your publishing agreement:

1. Complete the addendum.
2. Print a copy of the addendum and attach it to your publishing agreement.
3. Note in a cover letter to your publisher that you have included an addendum to the agreement.
4. Mail the addendum with your publishing agreement and a cover letter to your publisher.

Example Addendums to publishing agreements:

Tips for Negotiating with Publishers

You Only Have to ASK!

“The American Chemical Society does allow its authors to choose to have their works openly accessible immediately after publication. But so far, though the American Chemical Society publishes about 35,000 studies per year in its 41 journals, authors have only asked for open access for less than 2,000 papers, King said.”

Publisher Policies

Open Access

There are a variety of kinds of open access policies you may encounter.  A few are listed below:

Open Access or Creative Commons License - These two types of open access provide the most flexibility to the author.  It allows them to provide their manuscript on a publicly available site like Research Gate or a smaller institutional repository.  It also allows people to build from their research with proper attribution.

Green Open Access - Used by many Elsevier publications, this type of access means that an author is allowed to add a draft version ( or "green" version) of their manuscript.  This involves more work on the author's part, and may require that they wait until the embargo period has elapsed.

Hybrid Open Access - Allows authors to choose whether their article is published under the subscription model or an open access model.  In these situations, the journal may charge a fee to the author in order to make up for the cost of publishing the material which is usually covered by subscription fees.

Fair Use - In general, it is almost always within your rights to share your work with a single person requesting a copy through Research Gate or otherwise.  This falls under the Fair Use section of copyright law, however uploading a document to a freely accessible website is more questionable.