Publication agreement options

Publication agreement options

Below are some options you could consider for your publication agreements.

1. Check the publisher's policy on self-archiving

While journal publishers usually ask authors to assign copyright to them, many now also allow self-archiving of final accepted manuscript version in an institutional repository. Other publishers may grant permission if a request is made to them. It will be useful for you to check the publisher's policy on self-archiving before submitting your article for peer review. The knowledge could influence your decision about how to manage your copyright.

You may see the terms "preprint", which refers to the version submitted by the author to the publisher, and "post-print" which refers to the final accepted version.

The information may be on the journal's website. Look for links called "Notes to contributors" or "Information for authors". The information could be in the publishing contract. Read it carefully before signing. Here is an example of what to look for:

The Author(s) shall have the following rights
The right to post and update the Article on e-print servers as long as files prepared and/or formatted by APS or its vendors are not used for that purpose. Any such posting made or updated after acceptance of the Article for publication shall include a link to the online abstract in the APS journal or to the entry page of the journal.
(excerpt from the American Physical Society's transfer of Copyright form )

The RoMEO web site provides a list of publisher policies:

  • Publishers in GREEN support self-archiving of post-refereed version.
  • Publishers in YELLOW or BLUE may support some archiving rights, and changes or exceptions can often be negotiated by authors. A link to the relevant publisher information is generally provided, and should be checked.

Note that this information is not legally binding in Australia - your specific publisher agreement may be different.

If the publisher allows authors to retain the right to self-archive or if assignment of copyright is not required, there is no need to go on to the next step: you can immediately deposit a copy of your paper in Macquarie University ResearchOnline. If unsure, then contact the Macquarie University Lawyer or Macquarie University ResearchOnline staff for advice and assistance.

As part of the post-deposit checking process, Macquarie University ResearchOnline staff will check the copyright policy of the publisher and will write on your behalf to the publisher for permission if required, or if the policy is unclear.

2. Amend the publication agreement to deposit the final accepted manuscript version

If the publisher does not allow authors to self-archive the final accepted manuscript version, you could adopt one of the following strategies:

2a Best strategy: Amend the publishing agreement to reserve some rights

If the existing contract does not specifically grant authors the right to self-archive a copy of the final accepted manuscript version, it may be possible to cross out the relevant section of the existing agreement and insert a statement about the rights you wish to retain. For example:

The author transfers to {Publisher} the exclusive rights comprised in the copyright of the work, except that the author retains the following:

  • The right to self-archive a copy of the work in the author's institutional eprint repository.
  • The right to make copies of all or part of the work for the author's use in teaching.
  • The right to use, after publication, all or part of this material in works by the author in print or electronic format.

Contact the publisher or journal editor to let them know what you are doing and why.

2b Alternative strategy: Retain your copyright and grant the publisher a "licence to publish"

You can choose to retain ownership of the copyright and grant the publisher an exclusive licence for the first formal publication of the work (in print, digital, or some other form).

Researchers who are employed by the US Government routinely use this strategy. They cannot assign copyright to publishers because the Government retains the copyright. It is worth noting that the publishers continue to publish articles authored by these researchers.

In addition to this you could grant the publisher a non-exclusive licence for at least the following purposes:

  • Subsequent republication of the work
  • Reproduction in course packs and in e-Reserve
  • Reformatted publication (e.g., works transferred from print to microform and digital forms)
  • Distribution through document delivery services
  • Public performance and display of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, motion pictures, and other audiovisual works.

By granting non-exclusive rights to the publisher, the author retains the right to do any of these things without needing publisher permission.

Cross out and replace the original exclusive transfer language with text such as the following:
The author grants to the Publisher exclusive first publication rights in the Work, and further grants a non-exclusive licence for other uses of the Work for the duration of its copyright in all languages, throughout the world, in all media.
See in particular, the SPARC addendum at

3. Another alternative: Deposit information only, or self-archive a copy of the submitted version

Some publishers are very protective of what they perceive as their long term interests (including financial interests), and will not allow any flexibility or rights to authors seeking to use institutional repositories.

In this situation there are two main options:

  1. Macquarie University ResearchOnline may make metadata (information about the paper) available including information about the location of the published version, and archive but not make accessible, a copy of the final accepted manuscript version; or
  2. the author may self-archive the final submitted manuscript version before it is submitted to the publisher.

Before a paper is submitted to a journal for peer review, the copyright belongs to the author. Therefore, the author is always free to self-archive the final submitted manuscript version at this point in time. In fact, some researchers routinely self-archive their final submitted manuscript version. Physicists have been doing this for many years into their main discipline archive.

There are considerable variations in what publishers will allow authors to do in the time between submission and final publication. For more information about these possibilities, see the CreateChange website .

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