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Stony Brook University

Scholarly Communication Toolkit

A toolkit of information, services and resources


Copyright is a form of protection given to the authors or creators of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic and other intellectual works. 

Open Access In terms of scholarly literature, open access applies to “digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions”. What it means to academia and research is that the primary barrier to access, price, is removed from the equation, allowing free access to peer-reviewed, scholarly works, books, and just about any other electronic print material with the designation.  More open access information and resources for all SUNY is available at the Digital Commons of SUNY site.

Investigate the copyright policy of a journal before choosing to publish in it.

Your Copyright

Traditionally, journals require authors to transfer their copyright to the publisher.  

There are options for authors to retain some or all of their copyright in order to share and reuse their own work:
  • Current process: author does NOT retain copyright
  • OA Gold: Free online access provided by the journal itself, whether the journal is subscription-based, APC (article processing charge)-based, or subsidized. Open access journals can be searchable within a digital publisher’s collection. For example, EBSCO allows the user to limit searching to open access journals.
  • OA (open access) Green: Free online access to peer-reviewed materials provided by the author (self archived, or published in an institutional repository).
  • You may have more rights than you realize!

    According to SHERPA/RoMEO:

  • 87% of scholarly journals allow immediate self-archiving of some version of the article.
  • 60% of scholarly journals allow immediate self-archiving of the post-refereed version (including the 16% that allow immediate self-archiving of the final, published PDF).
  • After the expiration of embargo periods (usually 6 to 24 months), 94% allow self-archiving of the post-refereed or PDF version of the article.
  • Can I negotiate my copyright transfer contract?

    Sometimes. Your best shot is the Scholar’s Copyright Addendum Engine.  See also the CIC Addendum: Attach to traditional publisher agreement to retain the ability to keep a personal copy that can be posted to an institutional repository or personal website.

  • Advice to authors: Know your rights to what you write!

    • Research any journal you’re considering. (Quality? Peer reviewing process? Copyright policy?)

    • If you have the right to self-archive, exercise that right.

    • If you don’t have the right to self-archive, request it.

    • Choose the best publishing venue for you and your career…

    • …but also think about the system you’re contributing to and the one you want to contribute to.

Finding the copyright policy of a journal

Use Sherpa/RoMEO
  • Search by title or publisher
  • Shows rights that authors retain when they sign the standard copyright transfer agreement for a specific publisher.
For example: IEEE
  • Authors can archive pre-print
  • Authors can archive post-print
  • OR Author can archive publisher's .pdf
  • RoMEO Green publisher- most liberal sharing of copyright

What is the Creative Commons?

Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools.

Creative Commons free, easy-to-use copyright licenses provide a simple, standardized way to give the public permission to share and use your creative work — on conditions of your choice. CC licenses let you easily change your copyright terms from the default of “all rights reserved” to “some rights reserved.”

Creative Commons licenses are not an alternative to copyright. They work alongside copyright and enable you to modify your copyright terms to best suit your needs.

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