What Can I Share? Understanding Publishers’ Policies and Author’s Sharing Rights

Faculty Commons lounge

The scientific community and other researchers are grappling with a sudden disruption of scholarly sharing. A coalition of publishers, including the American Chemical Society, Brill, Elsevier, Wiley and Wolters Kluwer, are issuing take-down notices for publications posted to ResearchGate.

Publishers have the right to remove publications from ResearchGate since author publication contracts include copyright transfer agreements. These copyright agreements dictate how and what versions of the publications authors can share online. Determining the author’s rights for each of their articles is time consuming because each publisher has policies regarding copyright and authors’ rights.

Luckily, the William H. Hannon Library offers permission checking services for faculty interested in archiving their publications in Digital Commons, which offers better long-term preservation, visibility, and access to scholarly materials. We determine the copyright permissions of each article or contact publishers for permission to post faculty works on Digital Common.

What Can I Share Online?

Publishers make distinctions between three versions of a work: the Publisher’s PDF, Post-Print, and Pre-Print.

  • Publisher’s PDF (Published Version): The Publisher’s PDF is the final version of the work formatted by the publisher. This is the version of your article that is published on the publisher’s website or serial. It has been peer-reviewed and includes the publisher’s branding, layout, and typesetting.
  • Post-Print (Author’s Final Manuscript): A post-print is a version of the paper that has been peer-reviewed. This is the author’s final manuscript. It has revisions from the publishers, but does not have the layout or copy-editing done by the publishers.
  • Pre-Print: A pre-print is a version of your paper before it is peer reviewed or published. It has not been formatted by the publisher or peer-reviewed.

Not all journal publishers have the same policies governing the author’s use of these materials. For example, the Journal of Advertising allows authors to post or archive their pre-print or post-print, but not the publisher’s PDF. Publishers are more likely to allow authors the right to post their post-print or pre-print articles online, but this is not always their default position.

As noted in our Scholarly Communication LibGuide, authors have the option to negotiate with publishers to retain copyright to their works. Authors can:

  1. retain copyright, but license exclusive right publication rights to the publisher
  2. transfer copyright, but retain some specific rights.

The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) created the SPARC Author Addendum to help authors modify their copyright transfer agreements by keeping rights to: distribute copies for teaching and research, posting the article on a personal or institutional website, or creating derivative works. Another resource is the Scholar’s Copyright Addendum Engine (SCAE) which generates a PDF addendum that authors can use in negotiations with publishers to retain rights over their work.

Where Can I Find My Permissions?

Authors should review the agreement they signed with the publishers, which outlines the rights retained by the author. An author can also check the copyright polices on the publisher’s website. If an author does not have the author’s agreement, they can refer to SHERPA/RoMEO, a database of publishers’ copyright and self-archiving polices. If all else fails, contact the publisher for information about permissions.

Digital Commons @ Loyola Marymount University and Loyola Law School

We work to provide access to faculty scholarship on Digital Commons, we do our best to ensure work deposited in Digital Commons follows publisher’s copyright polices. If you’re tired of being spammed by ResearchGate, but need a long-term solution for preservation and visibility then Digital Commons is your solution. Figuring out your copyright permissions is a headache so send your publications list to digitalcommons@lmu.edu. We will review your publications copyright permissions and contact publishers to confirm their self-archiving policies.