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Publish and Thrive Challenge

Welcome to Day 3 of the Publish and Thrive Challenge!

Today we turn to your rights as an author. As we learned on Day 1, there are many things to consider when choosing where to publish, like the expectations of your field/department/school, as well as your goals for who will be able to engage with and build on your work (i.e., your audience). Thus, it's important to be aware of your rights as an author, and what you are (and are not) permitted to do with your work when you sign a publishing agreement.

First things first, copyright is a bundle of rights that grants a copyright holder the exclusive ability to: 

  • reproduce and distribute copies of their work
  • prepare derivative works
  • publicly perform or display their work 
  • post their work online, whether on a personal website, or in a scholarly or disciplinary archive (like Humanities Commons, or PubMed Centralor PsyArXiv), or in an institutional repository (like UMaine's Digital Commons)
  • authorize others to do any of the above (typically by transferring copyright in some capacity; in scholarly publishing this often happens when authors sign a publishing agreement)

Your Challenge: Determine the Rights Afforded to You in Author Contracts

1. Read this short explanation of copyright for authors, from the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC). Note: SPARC aims to help authors retain more of their rights when they publish their work, and to encourage publication in open access arenas, so you'll see that they include an author's addendum that can help you advocate for yourself to publishers. Keep in mind that you will want to know the expectations of your field/discipline/school as you consider whether and when to include an author's addendum in your manuscript submissions.

2. Open these three author's contracts.

3. Compare the publication agreements to identify language that stipulates which rights the author transfers to the publisher and which rights the author gets to keep.

4. What language looks favorable to authors (i.e., gives authors rights) or not favorable to authors (i.e., does not give authors rights)? Consider who you can or cannot share your publication with - colleagues, classmates, on your website, in your university's repository.

5. Which agreement would you prefer to sign, if any?

Let's hear from you! Which publication agreement would you prefer to sign and why? Please share your thoughts and insights in the anonymous discussion board below. Double click on the board, or click on the plus sign at the bottom right of the board, to post a comment. 

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Optional, BONUS Challenge: Return to your Publisher Selections from Day 1 and See if You Can Find their Publishing Agreements or Author Policies - What Rights Will You Retain, if Any?

You can check the publishers' websites, or try searching the SHERPA/RoMEO database, which contains information about many (but not all) publisher policies regarding the version of your work that you can post in a repository for free (i.e., pre-print, post-print, publisher's PDF version). Some publishers will also provide an open access option for the final, published PDF of your work that is fee-based. Need help tracking down publisher permissions for your work, and/or making sense of what you find? Contact your library liaison! We're happy to help.

Are you considering writing/editing/publishing a book?
Check out 11 Things to Do When You Receive a Publishing Contract.

Congratulations! You've completed Day 3 of the Publish and Thrive Challenge!

Great job! You now know how to discern what authors can share based on the publishing agreements they sign, and how you might advocate for yourself as an author. On Day 4, we'll look at creative ways to distribute your work and bring greater visibility to it.

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