Using Figures From Major Publishers in New Scholarly Articles

It’s easier to use figures, illustrations, and tables from major publishers in new scholarly publications because of contracts signed by the MIT Libraries for use of journals on campus. If an MIT author wants to include a figure, illustration, or table from a journal published by the American Institute of Physics, Elsevier, IEEE, Sage, Springer, Taylor & Francis, or Wiley, it’s possible to do so without asking permission or paying any fee.

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Through the MIT Libraries’ contracts, for example, the American Institute of Physics, IEEE, Sage, Springer, Taylor and Francis, and Wiley give MIT authors the right “to use, with appropriate credit, figures, tables and brief excerpts … in the Authorized User’s own scientific, scholarly and educational works.”
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Elsevier also allows authors similar rights. Authors can “incorporate a maximum of two (2) figures (including charts, tables, graphs and other images) from a journal article or book chapter or five (5) figures per journal volume … in academic works, research papers and scholarly publications and presentations … for non-commercial purposes.”


Elsevier, like Springer and Wiley, stipulates that the user must make appropriate credit, but also makes the point that “if a separate copyright holder is identified in such figure or the figure is a complex illustration,” for example an anatomical drawing, cartoon, map, or photograph, then permission should be sought from the publisher or copyright holder.

In general, permission should be sought if the figure, table, or illustration indicates a copyright holder other than the publisher.

To take advantage of these terms:
If a publisher wants evidence of the permission to reuse figures, tables, or illustrations from journals published by Elsevier, IEEE, Sage, Springer, Taylor & Francis, or Wiley, authors can indicate permission was granted through a license signed by MIT with the publisher for access to the journals at MIT, and can point journal editors to this web page.

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PNAS allows reuse as well — with author permission
The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences also allows reuse of figures or tables from their journal for new noncommercial and educational uses (such as in a review article) without asking permission from PNAS, as long as the original source is cited. In the case of PNAS (unlike the other publishers included here), it is, however, necessary to ask the author of the article for permission.

Other publishers have agreed to a policy statement produced by the International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers that allows similar reuses without permission, including the American Chemical Society, BMJ Publishing Group, the Institute of Physics, the International Union of Crystallography, Oxford University Press Journals, Portland Press, and the Royal Society of Chemistry.

If you have any questions, or if a publisher needs more information, please contact:

Ellen Duranceau / Program Manager, Scholarly Publishing, Copyright, and Licensing, MIT Libraries / x38483