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ALL-SIS Scholarly Communications & Author's Rights Toolkit

Scholarly Communications & Publishing

Scholarly communications refers to the ways that research and scholarly works are created, evaluated, and disseminated to the scholarly community, as well as how those works are preserved in the academic landscape. Scholarly communication includes both formal channels, such as peer-reviewed journal publications and informal channels, such as websites and blogs (ARL definition). Scholarly publishing is one aspect of scholarly communications.

Increasing Visibility & Access to Your Work

Research shows that the more open your publications are, the more likely other scholars will be to use your work, and the greater your scholarly impact.

Getting published

You've written a paper and are ready to submit. For guidance on which journals to submit to, the charts in this article provide details about law journal submissions, expedites, and rankings: Allen Rostron and Nancy Levit, Information for Submitting Articles to Law Reviews and Journals (January 25, 2020).

After you've submitted a paper to several journals through Scholastica or BePress and it's accepted, you'll be asked to sign a contract with the publisher before the article will be published. Most publishers benefits by selling journal subscriptions to libraries and other researchers. You, the author, receives no compensation from the publisher (and often must pay-to-submit). Read more about how traditional publishing is evolving.

What is this "Publisher's Agreement" or "Copyright Transfer Agreement" you've been asked to sign? Some agreements bar an author from self-archiving and publishing in open access sites by signing copyrights over to the publisher. To preserve author rights that permit such activity, universities encourage scholars to use an author's addendum or Creative Commons license. You may be required to publish in an open access repository by university policy or your funding source.

Open access repositories include SSRN and Digital Commons (i.e., bepress).

Author's rights and copyright

Before you sign, know -

  • The author is the copyright holder.
  • The author may grant all or partial rights to own, use, reuse, or publish in a signed agreement.
  • Unbundling author rights into copyright and publishing rights has advantages.

Many institutions have adopted "open access" policies. Open access policies express a preference or a requirement that some or all institutional authors grant the university a non-exclusive rights to publish faculty research in institutional repositories. Unlike corporate institutions that own their employees' research, universities generally permit their faculty to own their writings subject to the open access policy. At Harvard, for example, the open access policy requires faculty grant it a license for certain nonexclusive rights over their scholarly articles which authorizes the university to make those deposited articles open access. Even with a "prior license" grant to the university (or school), institutions continue to encourage the use of addenda to notify publishers and to protect your right to:

  • disseminate your work
  • use your work in your classes
  • post your work on your own website
  • post and archive your work in your Institutional Repository
  • post the pre-refereed or even post-refereed version of your paper
  • allow for the largest possible audience

Adapted from the University of Illinois Libraries.

A sampling of addenda -

 Harvard University Library Office for Scholarly Communication: Addendum

UIC Addendum To Publication Agreements For CIC Authors (.doc) 

SPARC Author Addendum (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition)

Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA) Author's Addendum

Simmons College Open Access Directory of Author Addenda



Funded Research & Open Access Requirements

NOTE: If your work has a funding sponsor, the use of Digital Commons may fulfill funding sponsors' open access requirements in instances when a sponsor gives its funded researcher the latitude to select a repository(ies) in which to store and disseminate her/his subject research results. This is most likely to be the case with private sponsors. Federal funding agencies are required by law to designate the repository(ies) to be utilized.

Because public access solutions vary by sponsor, researchers must pay close attention to proposal guidelines, award terms and conditions, and other sponsor-related communications to ensure they are complying with the requirements of their particular award. For more information about public access to the results of federally funded research please visit the Office of Research & Sponsored Programs. Investigators also can consult the US Agency Public Access Plans webpage which provides an up-to-date list of, and links to, U.S. agency plans as they are published.