When your research is published, the publisher may provide you with a final PDF of the article that includes the title of the journal or book, academic organization, date of publication, and perhaps even a logo. This a complimentary copy for your personal use.
"Personal use" does not include making this document available to read or download from your publicly accessible website, or from open access databases and platforms. Typically, only "preprint" versions (your own Word document or PDF) may be publicly disseminated. It is important to look closely at your publishing agreement to determine who holds the rights to reproduce and/or disseminate your work. Contracts for academic articles and essays often give exclusive licensing rights to the publisher for a period of time from the date of publication.
Your options before signing a contract
Creative Commons is a leader in the open access movement by providing free copyright licenses, giving both creators and potential users an easy way to share intellectual property. SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) has also engaged with OA issues and provides a comprehensive primer on author's rights. This includes a publisher's copyright agreement addendum as a PDF download, which allows you to specify the individual rights you want to keep for your work.
Need to know more about open access and academic publishing?
Our library's open access publishing guide has detailed information on copyright in academic publishing, as well as the use of Creative Commons licenses. The library has also negotiated "Read & Publish" agreements with several publishers that cover open access publication fees (article processing charges or APCs) for Wesleyan authors. This guide also includes information about uploading to a disciplinary or institutional repository as an alternative to open access publishing.
In our digital collections repository, WesScholar, we provide open access to preprint and unrestricted versions of your work. We do not upload any work that is protected by licensing agreements or that can only be accessed through databases that require institutional login credentials. SHERPA/RoMEO is a database of publisher copyright policies that we consult when needed.