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SOM Copyright Resources: Authors' Rights and Scholarly Publishing

NIH Public Access Policy

The NIH Public Access Policy requires that all investigators funded by the NIH submit an electronic version of their final, peer-reviewed manuscripts upon acceptance for publication to be made available to the public within 12 months of the official date of publication.

For more information on this policy, visit the NIH Public Access Policy website. If you have any questions about submitting your research to the NIH to comply with this policy please contact Debra Rand.

Why Manage Your Rights?

As an author you retain copyright of your work as soon as the work is in a fixed, tangible medium. Copyright is a bundle of various rights that allows you as the holder to retain ownership and rights as to the use, dissemination, display, and modification of the work in digital or print format in connection with academic and professional activities. 

However, publication agreements may call for the transfer of certain rights to the publisher. You are encouraged to anticipate your future needs and to retain the rights you may need in order to optimize dissemination of your research. In today’s digital world, the right to disseminate and reuse the work is almost as important as the content itself. Some of these rights include:

  • use part of the work as a basis for a future publication
  • send copies of the work to colleagues
  • comply with the NIH Public Access Policy or other funding agency policies
  • present the work at conference or meeting and give copies of the work to attendees
  • use a different or extended version of the work for a future publication
  • make copies of the work for personal use and educational use
  • self-archive the work in an institutional repository
  • use graphs, charts, and statistical data for a future publication
  • post the work on a laboratory or institutional web site on a restricted network
  • post the work on a laboratory or institutional web site on a publicly available network
  • use the work for educational use such as lecture notes or study guides
  • comply with public access mandates
  • deposit supplemental data from the work in an institutional or subject repository
  • place a copy of the work on electronic reserves or use for student course-packs
  • include the work in future derivative works
  • make an oral presentation of the work
  • include the work in a dissertation or thesis
  • use the work in a compilation of works or collected works
  • expand the work into a book form or book chapter
  • retain patent and trademark rights of processes or procedures contained in the work



McCleskey, S. Copyright Information Center [Internet]. Hempstead, NY; Hofstra University Libraries; 2015 [cited 2015 Aug 19]. Available from:

Determining Publisher Policies and Managing Your Rights

Determining Publishers' Copyright Policies

You can determine a publisher's copyright policy in several ways:

  1. Review the publisher’s copyright agreement form of a specific journal to determine what rights a publisher allows authors to retain and stipulations that must be followed. Note that policies may vary among journals published by the same publisher.
  2. Use the Sherpa-Romeo tool to locate publisher copyright transfer agreements including summaries of permissions.
  3. Look under “Instructions for Authors” or “Copyright Information” on the journal web site. Many publishers provide detailed information for authors as to what uses are permitted under the publisher’s copyright policy for a given journal. The Mulford Health Science Library's Instructions for Authors Guide provides direct links to these webpages for various publishers. 


Maintaining Your Rights

When you have an article accepted for publication, according to the traditional publication agreement, all rights —including copyright — go to the journal. You probably want to include sections of your article in later works. You might want to give copies to your class or distribute it among colleagues. And you likely want to place it on your web page or in an online repository. These are all ways to give your research wide exposure and fulfill your goals as a scholar, but they are inhibited by the traditional agreement.

The SPARC Author Addendum is a legal instrument that modifies the publisher’s agreement and allows you to keep key rights to your articles. The Author Addendum is a free resource developed by SPARC in partnership with Creative Commons and Science Commons, established non-profit organizations that offer a range of copyright options for many different creative endeavors.



McCleskey, S. Copyright Information Center [Internet]. Hempstead, NY; Hofstra University Libraries; 2015 [cited 2015 Aug 19]. Available from:

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