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Research Commons

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Navigating the Article Publication Process

Review your publishing agreement

Authors should be aware that they may be relinquishing their copyright, in whole or in part, as part of the terms of their publishing agreement. In some cases, this can impact an author’s ability to reuse or adapt the published work for educational or later research endeavors.

General best practices:

  • READ your agreement. Only sign a publishing agreement after you read and understand the terms.
  • KNOW your rights. U.S. Copyright Law provides authors with a bundle of rights. Authors may retain or transfer those rights to others.
  • ASK for the rights your need and the rights that you want. Identify the rights you need now and rights you may wish to retain for the future. Consider how you may want others to be able to use your work. Negotiate changes with your publisher, using an addendum if necessary.
  • SAVE a copy of your agreement. Retain a copy of the final agreement and all communications with your publisher.

Common publishing terms

It is important to read your publishing agreement to understand all terms that may impact ownership and use of your work. While terms can vary from publication to publication, here are some common terms found in agreements:

  • Copyright transfer – an assignment, exclusive license, or other conveyance of copyright ownership. Publishing agreements may call for an author to transfer some or all of their rights to the publisher.
  • Manuscript versions. Publishers may distinguish between different versions of a manuscript, with certain permissible uses tied to a particular version of the manuscript.
    • Preprint – the original submitted version of the manuscript

    • Accepted Manuscript/Postprint – the version of the article that has been through the peer review process, incorporating reviewer comments.

    • Publisher's PDF/Publisher version – the final version of record of the manuscript. This version includes the publisher’s typeset.

  • Embargo – the period of time in which the author may not make the work publicly available. Embargo periods may correspond to particular versions of a manuscript.

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