Your Copyright: Increase the Impact of Your Research

MIT Libraries

Information for MIT authors

Why retain rights?

  • Many publishers create significant barriers for authors who want to reuse or share their work, and for access to that work by others. Negotiating changes to standard publisher agreements can help authors avoid these obstacles, thus increasing options for authors as well as readership, citation, and impact of the work itself. (Openly available articles have been shown to be more heavily cited.)
  • Publishers routinely change the agreements they ask authors to sign. If you have not secured rights you want as an author, the publisher may alter its practices over time.
  • Making research and scholarship as widely available as possible supports MIT’s mission of “generating, disseminating, and preserving knowledge, and to working with others to bring this knowledge to bear on the world’s great challenges.”
  • MIT Faculty unanimously adopted a policy in March 2009 that ensures their scholarly articles will be openly available. Through this policy, faculty give MIT nonexclusive permission to make their scholarly articles available and to exercise the copyright in those articles for the purpose of open dissemination. This policy exists prior to any publisher copyright agreement. To be thorough, MIT recommends that you communicate this policy to your publisher and add to any copyright license or assignment for scholarly articles an addendum stating that the agreement is subject to this prior license.
  • Some research funders request or require that work created with their funds be made available openly on the web. Their policies can be reviewed at the “Juliet” site. Other institutions also have open access policies or mandates.

Which rights to retain?

  • MIT authors are often most interested in retaining rights to:
    • Reuse their work in teaching, future publications, and in all scholarly and professional activities.
    • Post their work on the web (sometimes referred to as “self-archiving”) e.g. in DSpace@MIT, MIT’s research repository; in a discipline archive (such as PubMed Central or arXiv ; or on a web page.

How to retain rights?

  • Authors should specify the rights they want to retain, as most publishers do not extend these rights to authors in their standard agreements.
  • One simple way to retain rights is to use the MIT Copyright Amendment Form.
  • This form enables authors to continue using their publications in their academic work; to deposit them into DSpace@MIT; and to deposit them into any discipline-based research repository (including PubMed Central, the National Library of Medicine’s database for NIH-funded manuscripts).

Which publishers are likely to be flexible about these rights?

  • Publisher policies and agreements vary considerably. The “Romeo” database offers a convenient summary of many publisher copyright policies & self-archiving.
  • Publisher policies and agreements are usually linked from the author information or article submission section of a journal’s website.
  • Publisher policies change over time, and the terms stated on their websites often vary from the terms of their actual agreements, so it is important to read the agreement itself.

Where do I go with questions about these issues?

  • The MIT Libraries’ Program Manager for the Office of Scholarly Publishing & Licensing, Ellen Finnie Duranceau: efinnie at mit.edu / 617.253.8483

Please note: The concepts from this page are also developed in a powerpoint presentation: “Scholarly Publication and Copyright: Retaining Rights & Increasing the Impact of Research” from July, 2007.