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Author Rights and Publishing Resources

Understand and take control of your rights as the creator of new research and scholarship

Know your rights: the basics

Most academic publisher agreements will ask you to surrender more of your rights than are necessary for publication. Depending on the agreement, you may find yourself unable to re-use portions of your articles in other publications, build upon your own research, post it online, or you may even be prevented from printing your writings for your own classes or to share with colleagues, prospective employers, etc.

UH Libraries has experts who can help you navigate these agreements and maintain more control of your works.

This guide will help you to:

  • understand your rights as an author;

  • analyze publisher agreements; and

  • navigate the publication process so that you end up with more control over your works.

Why should I take care over my rights?

Despite the power authors have as copyright owners, they become powerless when signing away their copyrights when executing an author agreement. Most author rights agreements transfer all copyrights to the publisher in their entirety. Researchers should thoroughly read their publishing agreements and discuss them with their Library liaison or Taylor Davis-Van Atta (tgdavisv@central.uh.edu), UH Libraries' Digital Scholarship Coordinator, before signing to verify what rights they are being asked to give away.

A complete transfer of copyright can have the following negative implications:

  • Transferring distribution rights may prohibit an author from publishing the work in a repository or other source as required by the terms of a funding agreement;
  • Transferring reproduction, distribution, public display, or public performance rights may prohibit an author from sharing their work with their students, colleagues, or professional organization;
  • Transferring reproduction, distribution, public display, or public performance rights may prohibit an author from sharing their work in their institutional repository or website, in some cases triggering receipt of a take-down notice;
  • Transferring the right to make derivative works may prohibit an author from creating follow-up or related works based on their own research;

Bottom line: 

  • Transferring all copyrights means authors no longer own their work or the right to control where or how it appears; and
  • Transferring all copyrights may result in a publisher reusing an author's works without permission or notice.