Michigan State University


Author Rights

Try to retain copyright and control of your own scholarship

The ownership of your work is a key factor in the ability of some commercial publishers to charge high prices, thereby restricting the number of people who can see and cite your work. It is very common for publishers to request a transfer of copyright when you publish. Then you may be required to ask permission or even pay a royalty to post your own work, distribute copies to colleagues or to classes, or even to update an earlier version of your work.

  • You have the right to negotiate your author agreement with the publisher after an article is accepted for publication to ensure your right to use your work as you see fit. Increasingly, universities are encouraging faculty to do this. The Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA) offers an author’s addendum and brochure that you can use to help negotiate for better copyright terms. Read Micah Vandegrift’s story for proof that copyright can be successfully negotiated.

  • Consider publishing in a journal that provides options for open access publication. This can take multiple forms from the ability to self-archive, paying an article fee to make your work open access, or a journal that publishes exclusively using an open access model.

Awareness and Advocacy

Refuse to submit papers to, review papers for, or be on editorial boards for unreasonably expensive journals or journals with unreasonable restrictions on use and dissemination

  • Examine the pricing of any journal that you contribute to or edit. Ask your subject specialist librarian about the reputation of various publishers for expense and licensing restrictions and check the SHERPA-RoMEO for more information about individual journals.

  • If you are an editor of a costly commercial journal, consider moving your journal to a non-profit, reasonably priced, or open access publisher.

  • Encourage your scholarly association to maintain reasonable journal prices for libraries, to explore alternatives to contracting with commercial publishers, and to engage in scholarship-friendly practices such as making articles freely available after six months.

Support discussions and action around these topics on campus

  • Support the MSU Libraries' cancellation of some high-cost journals.

  • Discuss departmental promotion and tenure expectations to envision changes that reward quality publication in venues that allow for the widest dissemination rather than rewarding a published article as an end in itself.

Dialog with your MSU Libraries

Are you involved in any way in projects that seek solutions to the scholarly communication crisis? Do you want to talk about these issues further? At the MSU Libraries we would love to hear from you about these topics. Please contact your subject specialist librarian.