University Library News
Georgia State University

Author Rights and Scholarly Publishing

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When you write an article (or book, book chapter, etc.), the copyright to that work belongs to you.  However, when you publish an article you usually will get a “Publication Agreement” or “Copyright Transfer Agreement.”  You’re so excited your work is getting published that you just sign it and send it back, right? In most cases, when you do that you are transferring your copyright to the publisher, and you can no longer exercise the exclusive rights you had as the copyright owner.

Without those rights, you can no longer share copies of you work, use it in your teaching, authorize translations, or display the work publicly on your website, ResearchGate,, or ScholarWorks.

Even if you signed a publication agreement, there are still several ways that you can legally place these items into ScholarWorks:

  • You retained the right to post your work by editing or amending the Publication or Copyright Transfer Agreement
  • The agreement explicitly let you retain that right
  • You published in an open access journal that did not ask for a copyright transfer
  • You or the library asked the publisher (copyright owner) for permission after the rights were transferred

How can you keep your rights as a copyright owner? See if the publisher of your work will accept a first publication right to publish your work, instead of a transfer of copyright, or otherwise give you broader control over your own work.  SPARC has a standard author addendum you can use. One of the issue areas of the Authors Alliance is managing author rights. Be sure to watch the video discussion with Professor Michael W. Carroll about using an author addendum, and for further information about authors and copyright, visit their FAQ.

If you have questions about what material can be placed into ScholarWorks, contact