Copyright Corner: What options do I have regarding the copyright transfer agreement the publisher wants me to sign?

A: Publishers have become more flexible, and it is highly recommended that you try to retain as many rights as possible.  Do not assume that you have to sign the original agreement provided by the publisher.  You may want to check the publisher’s website to see what rights, if any, are automatically granted to authors.  It is possible for an author to retain the right to post his or her own article/s on a personal website OR in an institutional repository.

Contact the library regarding copyright addendum forms.  Some rights you might choose to retain include:

  • Submitting the paper to PubMed Central.  If the paper is the result of NIH funded research, you must retain the right to submit to PubMed Central.  
  • Emailing a copy to a colleague.  This might be the final peer-reviewed word document, a personally generated PDF or the publisher’s PDF.
  • Reusing images or figures.
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