FAQ: Publishing Support

Here are some common questions related to publishing. If you have additional questions, contact the Scholarly Communication Team.

What does it mean to own the copyright on work I create?

As the copyright holder, you have the right to reproduce, adapt, publish, perform, and display that work. In addition, you can determine how you would like to share those rights with others. See our Copyright page for additional information.

If I’ve transferred the copyright of my material to a publisher, what are my rights to use it?

Unless you have reserved the right to use the work in your contract with the publisher, or have received permission from the publisher, you may use only that amount that falls within Fair Use. Be sure to negotiate your publisher agreement, so that you maintain your rights.

Do I need to register my work to have copyright?

No, an original work is automatically under copyright when it is fixed in a tangible medium of expression, whether in print or electronically. There are some reasons you may want to register your work, however. Registration establishes a public record of the copyright claim and, for works of U.S. origin, it is required before an infringement suit may be filed in court. Read about registering your work from the U.S. Copyright Office.

How can I negotiate a better deal with my publisher and retain important rights?

Tufts has a model amendment to publishers’ agreements that you can use. It allows you to reserve the non-exclusive right to use your intellectual property for your own academic and professional activities, to make it available in digital form on your website, in the Tufts Digital Library, in course management systems, and allows you to grant these rights to your current or future employing academic institution.  Read more about creating open access to published work.

Is my publisher likely to allow me to retain some rights?

Traditionally, academic publishers required authors to transfer copyright to them, but non-exclusive assignment of rights is becoming much more common, where the publisher receives some and author retains some rights. Look up a publisher/journal in SHERPA RoMEO to view their standard policies.

Will making my dissertation/thesis openly available in the Tufts Digital Library hurt my chances for publication?

Get a sense of the publishing landscape in your field from an advisor or colleagues.  It may be that publishers in your sub-field are not concerned about an earlier, not blind peer-reviewed copy in your institutional repository, the Tufts Digital Library.  Remember a dissertation is not a book.

You might also consider an embargo, which delays the release of the full-text, potentially allowing for your published version to appear first. Read more thesis & dissertation writer considerations.

How can I increase the research impact of what I publish?

Publish your work open access (OA)! OA literature is freely available on the internet without most copyright restrictions, which can lead to many positive outcomes, such as improved discoverability and broadened readership, which in turn can increase your research impact. Read more about open access.

How can I help increase the diversity, equity, and inclusion in how scholarly work is shared?

Consider how peer review is structured and the demographics of publishers/editorial boards for journals you may publish in or maintain leadership roles in. Seek out marginalized voices in your research. Explore open access publications, which allow for more diverse and sizable viewing of, sharing of, and building upon the research literature. See University of Minnesota’s Conducting Research through an Anti-Racism Lens for more ideas.

My research is funded by an external agency/foundation. Does this impact where I publish? How do I comply with my funder’s public access/open access requirements?

Keep funder requirements in mind early in the process when selecting where to publish your research.  Some funders may stipulate an open or public access policy that not all journals readily comply with.  Review the publisher’s website or use Sherpa Romeo to determine a journal’s requirements and then compare that to your funder’s from their website or Sherpa Juliet.  In particular, examine terms such as the timing – does open access need to be immediate?; version – what version of the manuscript needs to be openly available?; location – where does the open access copy need to live, a repository or the journal’s site?; cost – what are the costs for open access publishing and will the funder pay? OA model – are hybrid journals acceptable, that is, subscription journals where only some content is open access?;  Licenses – is a specific type of Creative Commons license needed?; External policies – does the funder belong to Plan S which may supersede other policies?