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Scholarly Publishing and Open Access: Copyright For Authors

Guide for student and faculty authors to understand scholarly publishing, open access, and retaining copyright. Several content boxes in this guide were used with permission from Boston College.

The Copyright Holder Controls the Work

Copyright Holder Rights

Traditionally, publishers’ contracts restricted an author's use of published work in teaching and research. Contracts often prohibited placing the published work

  • on course websites
  • in a course-pack
  • in scholarly presentations
  • on the author’s personal web page
  • and in such scholarly e-print repositories as the Viterbo Research Collection

Many publishers now anticipate an author's legitimate need to distribute and repurpose his work and no longer require exclusive rights to publication. Some publishers balance their interest in recouping publishing costs with the author’s desire to disseminate their ideas broadly, placing a short-term embargo on the open access archiving of the work.

Transferring copyright doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Publishers require only the author’s permission to publish an article, not a wholesale transfer of copyright. To make retention of rights easier, use the Scholar's Copyright Addendum Engine to generate a cusomized addendum to your publisher's contract, reserving the rights you need.

Author Rights Information

Open or Closed: Author's Choice



  • Use the Sherpa/RoMEO website to find a journal or publisher's standard policy on retention of copyright by authors.
  • The entry for each publisher lists conditions or restrictions imposed by the publisher on authors' rights to deposit their articles in open access repositories.