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Scholarly Publishing

Your Research, Your Rights

Author Rights

Publishers often ask for your copyright when you submit articles for publication. You CAN grant publishers the rights they need while keeping your intellectual property. Consider Open Access journals or use the SPARC addendum

Author Identities

You have the right to have your name associated with your work. Ensure your that research is associated with you and not with someone with a similar name by establishing an ORCID.


Your work is protected by copyrighted immediately, literally as soon as your finger hits the keyboard. Copyright protection for your works is the life of the author plus 70 years. As a researcher it's important to understand the rights of the copyright owner as distinct from rights of the creator and works for hire.

Creative Commons

A Creative Commons license is a way to keep your copyright (ownership) while proactively granting others the ability to use your work such as using a graph or photograph of yours in another work. There are different types of Creative Commons licenses depending on whether or not you want to allow things such as commercial use. 

Open Access:

Open Access is a way to make the results of results of research available to everyone without requiring a subscription or other form of payment.


Articles can be retracted (withdrawn) for a number of reasons such as plagiarism or significant defects found in the methodology post-publication such as cold fusion.  Findings can (and will) be challenged for many reasons--that's the way science works; it's the art of getting it 'less wrong.'   Post-publication peer review and open access mandates for data will likely result in an increase in retractions as the underlying data is made available.

Findings can be challenged for less honorable reasons such as with Dr. Omalu's game-changing article on Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy describing the link between brain damage and concussions in professional football players.

But what if you find a mistake in your own work post publication?  Retraction Watch offers advice from authors "who've been there."

Who owns your work?

It is common practice for publishers to ask for your copyright as part of accepting an article for publication. Giving away your copyright means you no longer own that intellectual property.  You no longer have the right to put the article on course reserve without paying royalties, post a copy on your web site, share copies with members a research team.  All those activities--making and distributing copies--are rights that belong to the copyright owner.  If you give your copyright to the publisher the right to make, share and distribute copies belongs to them. 

Some publishers will grant you some permissions such as allowing you to include the article in an anthology. Publishers do not need to own the copyright in order to publish. They need an exclusive, time-bound, license to copy and distribute. Those two permissions allow publishers to distribute your article and protect their revenue from subscriptions. 

You CAN publish in any journal and keep your copyright but, unless the journal is an open access journal such as PLoS One, you must ask. Almost all publishers have procedures in place to accommodate those requests. Even if the publisher says no you can choose to with drawn your submission or, you can ask for additional rights such as the right to makes copies of your article to use in the classroom or share with research teams.   

Who are you?

Many people have similar names and names can change.  Make sure that your research is identified with you by establishing an ORCID and using it across platforms.  When it comes to establishing your h factor you'll be glad you did.

Major repositories and publisher systems. e.g. Web of Science, have systems to disambiguate authors. The major ones include:

ORCID  vendor-neutral author identification, intended to work across platforms

ResearcherID is Thomson Reuters unique identifier and is used in Web of Science.

Scopus Author Identifier: (Elsevier) unique researcher identification. 

arXiv Author ID (Cornell)

eRA Commons Username  (National Institutes of Health)

OpenID this is a relatively new identification and appears to be aimed at identities in the commercial space, not intended to be used as to disambiguate between researchers and scholars.  

Notre Dame Research-Related Policies

Works created in the course of employment are considered "work for hire".  Section 201 (b) of the US Copyright Law states "In the case of a work made for hire, the employer or other person for whom the work was prepared is considered the author for purposes of this title, and, unless the parties have expressly agreed otherwise in a written instrument signed by them, owns all of the rights comprised in the copyright." 

As faculty, staff and students of the University of Notre Dame we all produce copyrighted content in the course of our work such as developing the content for this page. Notre Dame's Research-Related Policies on Intellectual Property Policies details what content the university claims as work-for-hire and where it grants the copyright back to you. "...the University does not normally claim ownership of works such as textbooks, articles, papers, scholarly monographs, or artistic works."


Creative Commons License: A means to retain copyright while proactively granting permission to reuse the work under specific conditions such as attribution.  

Embargo: Embargoes for articles is the length of time between when the article is first published and when it becomes available through channels other than the publisher. This could mean becoming open access through requirements such as the NIH public access mandate or being available through a content aggregator such as Academic Search Premier.  Embargoes for dissertations and thesis is the length of time between when the dissertation is accepted and when it is made available. Authors embargo their dissertations when they hope to publish a revised version as a book or as book chapters. 

Fair Use: specific exemptions to the exclusive rights of the copyright holder.  Fair Use (section 107) includes common academic activities such as the ability to review, criticize, quote, make a copy of an article for personal use.

Infringement: in the context of copyright, using more of a copyright work than is allowed by law.

License: a license is a contract. Signing a license can mean you are giving your copyright to a publisher.  

Notre Dame Honor Code:  Notre Dame's Honor Code outlines the responsibilities of students and faculty for ethical conduct of teaching and research. The code forbids use of material, without attribution, whether or not it is copyrighted.

Open Access: The ability to read an article is not dependent on having a journal subscription. 

Orphan Works: works still believed to be in copyright but there is no way to identify or contact the copyright owner, e.g. photographs of studio no longer in business.

Rights of the copyright holder:  the copyright law (17 U.S.Code Section 106) grants copyright holders the right to reproduce the work, prepare derivative works, distribute copies, perform and display perform the work.  

Plagiarism: presenting someone else's work, ideas or concepts as your own.  Plagiarism is an ethical concept.  Copyright violation is a legal concept.

Public Domain: works no longer in copyright or never covered by copyright.

SPARC addendum:  Publisher agreements may give authors some rights to reuse their works, the SPARC addendum in an addendum to the publisher agreement giving the authors specific additional rights to their works including the ability to make coies available for noncommercial use.  

TEACH Act:  The TEACH Act allows certain activities such as showing a feature-length film without payment provided the activity takes place within the context of face-to-face instruction.  The TEACH Act is not copyright law does give exemptions to the rights of copyright holders.

Transformative Work:  A fair use under copyright law. Use of a copyright work that changes the purpose and intent of the original work.

Work for hire: works made in the normal course of employment such as the text of this LibGuide. When a work is created as part of your job your employer owns the copyright unless both parties have an agreement in place to allow you to retain the copyright.  Notre Dame's Intellectual Property Policy  describes the works where the University claims exclusive rights and where they waive the right.  In general if you write an article or a book the University allows you to keep the copyright but other intellectual property such as patents belong to Notre Dame.