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The SHERPA database, maintained by the University of Nottingham, provides an easy way to check publishers' policies on copyright and self-archiving. Before submitting to a particular publisher, we suggest checking here to see how you will be able to use your work before and after publication. For example, can put pre-prints (pre-refeered version) in a publically accessible archive? Can you archive post-prints? Please remember that generic policies can often be individually modified, as outlined above.

As a supplement to the SHERPA database, eprints.org allows you to look up self-archiving policies by journal title rather than by publisher.


Traditionally, publishers require you to sign a standard contract before publication, usually referred to as a "Copyright Transfer Agreement," "Publication Agreement," or "License to Publish." Often, these contracts transfer all of your rights as a bundle to the publisher. One option you have is to unbundle this package to retain certain rights, such as the abilities to post your work to the public Internet or to use your research in a class setting.

In the Spring of 2007, the University Senate endorsed and encouraged the faculty to submit the CIC author's addendum at the same time as they return the publisher's agreement. This addendum stipulates that the author and the University has the right to use the paper in connection with his teaching and research and that, after six months, the author can put the final published version of the paper up on the internet in a digital repository such as IDEALS.


  • Author Rights: This SPARC pamplet introduces the SPARC Author Addendum, a legal form that enables authors of journal articles to modify publishers’ copyright transfer agreements and allow authors to keep key rights to their articles.  On the same page, see also the Right to Research: The student guide to opening access to scholarship .
  • Creative Commons: a nonprofit organization that offers flexible copyright licenses for creative works, be they text, audio, images or other. With a Creative Commons license, you keep your copyright but allow people to copy and distribute your work provided they give you credit -- and only under the conditions you specify.
  • Scholar's Copyright Project: Provides several standard, responsible author's copyright agreement addenda that ensure the right of scholars to archive their work on the public Internet.
  • Copyown: A resource on copyright ownership for the higher education community, developed by the University of Maryland and the Association of Research Libraries.
  • Reserving Rights of Use in Works Submitted for Publication: Negotiating Publishing Agreements: From the IUPUI Copyright Management Center, this document provides "simple steps to protect your rights through better contracts with publishers" and sample addenda to attach to publishing agreements.
  • " Copyright as Cudgel" by Siva Vaidhyanathan: This article provides an overview of developments in copyright law in the digital era and their potentially chilling effect in academia (from The Chronicle of Higher Education, 2002).