Copyright and Publishing

Publishers often require authors to assign copyright in the work to them as a part of the publication agreement.

If you either assign ownership to the publisher or grant them an exclusive licence to your copyright then you are giving away your rights. This means you may not be able to use the work in certain ways, for example uploading it to your website or sharing it with colleagues.

While it is preferable to keep your copyright most publication agreements now also include a list of rights given back to the author of the work. These rights can include such uses as depositing the accepted version of the work into a research repository, sharing with colleagues, and inclusion in a thesis. You should always read the publication agreement before signing and decide if it allows you to use the work in the way you want, both now and into the future.

If you are not happy with the publication agreement you could consider negotiating with the publisher or use an author’s addendum. An addendum is a legal instrument that modifies the original publication agreement. For more information and an example addendum which you can use or modify to suit your needs visit the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) webpage. You might also consider publishing in an Open Access journal. These often have more favourable publication agreements but not always, so it is still important that you read the agreement and understand what rights you are granting to the publisher.

The University encourages staff to deposit a copy of any scholarly publication with the University’s digital repository, Adelaide Research & Scholarship. This is subject to the conditions of the publication agreement or the publisher’s policies.

Furthermore, some research funding bodies (eg NIH) now require grantees to post electronic versions of publications arising from the grant on a designated server. Please contact Research Branch if you have queries about this aspect of your research grant.

For a list of publishers’ policies regarding the authors’ rights to make works available on repositories, go to SHERPA/RoMEO. Or check the journal or publisher’s policy on the relevant journal or publisher’s website.