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Books & Bytes: Scholarly Communications Corner

Library newsletter

Scholarly Communications Corner

This column will highlight topics within scholarly communication, encompassing just about any aspect of how you communicate your scholarly message to the world and how others engage with that message.


Amending Your Publishing Agreements

by Erin Cassidy

When a journal accepts a researcher’s manuscript for publication, they typically require the author to sign a publishing agreement. Occasionally a researcher may have a choice between actually transferring their copyright to the journal publisher—essentially giving up rights to the work they have created—or simply granting a limited permission for the journal to print their work. However, in many cases, this choice is not offered, or a researcher (especially early-career) may not understand the costs and benefits of each option.

It is important to understand that you are not required to sign away the copyright to your work. Retaining that copyright provides opportunities for you to use your work in other ways, whether that means republishing an article as a book chapter, freely providing a PDF of your article to all your students, or archiving your published article with Scholarly Works @ SHSU to make your findings more accessible. Even if a publisher’s default agreement involves a complete transfer of copyright, you have the power to negotiate a different agreement.

SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) works to promote and facilitate open sharing of scholarly output. To this end, they have provided the SPARC author addendum as a valuable tool for negotiating an author’s rights with a publisher. This instrument can be filled out online and attached to a publishing agreement to amend it; several versions of the addendum are available, differing in terms of which rights are explicitly retained and how soon the author may share the published version of the article. For more information about using the author addendum, consult the SPARC Author Rights Brochure.

Your scholarly works are the product of significant time, effort, and passion. Don’t just sign away the ownership of those works without a full understanding of what you are doing and why. You have the right and the ability to negotiate for more control over your own creations, and the SPARC author addendum is one tool that can assist with this process.

For questions about submitting your works (published or unpublished) to the Scholarly Works @ SHSU archive, contact Susan Elkins, Digital Resources Librarian, at or x4-1524. For other questions pertaining to publishing, and scholarly communication, contact Erin Cassidy, Scholarly Communications Librarian, at or x4-4567. 


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