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Library Notice

Author's Rights: Why is it IMPORTANT?

As the author, you automatically have a basic set of copyrights when you create an original work and the work is 'fixed' in a tangible format, e.g. notes on paper, artworks, AV records, or a digital document on your computer. Those exclusive rights are to:

  • Make copies of the work
  • Distribute (publish) the work
  • Revise/adapt the work (create a movie from your book)
  • Publicly display the work
  • Publicly perform the work

You are the copyright holder, unless or until you transfer your rights to a publisher upon acceptance of publication of your work. Authors are encouraged to anticipate their future needs and to retain the rights to your scholarly works to optimize dissemination of their research. The followings are two major aspects of rights that author should negotiate with publishers to retain:

  • Reuse your works in teaching, future publications, and in all scholarly and professional activities
  • Self-Archiving your works on your personal website, in a discipline archive (e.g. SSRN, RePEc, PhilPapers), or in institutional repository (Digital Commons@ Lingnan)

How to Retain your Author's Rights?

Publishers require only the author's permission to publish an article, not a wholesale transfer of copyright. If you sign away your copyrights:

  • You lose your rights under copyright (with some fair dealing / fair use exceptions)
  • Current and future use of your work is completely controlled by new rights holder
  • Your institution may not enjoy expanded rights through permission

Things to do:

1. Understand Publishers / Journals Policies (Copyright Transfer Agreements)
Use SHERPA/RoMEo to search by journal title, publisher or ISSN to review the default copyright and self-archiving policies for publishers and journals. Determine the rights you may still hold to your work and/or your ability to post and share your article once published. (Individual authors may attempt to negotiate exceptions/changes to the standard policies)


2. Use an Author Addendum to negotiate / retain your rights as author
An author addendum is a legally-binding document used to modify the terms of a journal/publisher’s Copyright Transfer Agreement, resulted in retaining control of your work for purposes e.g. distributing copies in the course of teaching and research, posting the article on a personal website or institutional repository, etc.
See "Author Addendum Tools", to work out an addendum that suits your need


3. Publish in an Open Access (OA) Journal
Most OA journals do not require you to transfer copyright. All contents are freely available to everyone while providing services common to all scholarly journals, such as the peer-review process, production, and distribution.
Learn More About "Open Access"


4. Self-Archiving
If you have retained sufficient rights, you can post your research outputs in Lingnan Scholars, the scholarly portal to capture all research-related information including research outputs, grants, projects, awards, and the impact of these scholarly activities produced by renowned scholars of Lingnan community.
Learn More About Lingnan Scholars


Author Addendum Tools

An addendum, in general, is an addition required to be made to a document by its author subsequent to its printing or publication. It is an agreement between you and your publisher that allows you to retain non-exclusive, specific rights for professional use, but also allows the publisher to continue to publish and exercise similar rights for distribution and copies.


More about Author's Rights

Learn more about Author's Rights in 2 Mins with this video produced by the Institute on Scholarly Communication in association with SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), explains how researchers can maximize exposure and dissemination for their peer-reviewed article manuscripts.