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Library Research Guides

Graduate Student's Guide to Publishing

Tips on how to get your work published in a variety of formats.

Understanding Your Rights as an Author

When you publish an article, book, chapter, or other scholarly work, your publisher will ask you to sign a publication agreement. This document is sometimes also called an "author agreement," or "copyright transfer agreement." It will typically include a statement about who owns the copyright to the written work in question, any other (exclusive or non-exclusive) rights of the author and publisher, terms for royalties (if applicable), and preferred methods of citation for the work. Because these agreements typically involve at least some transfer of copyright to your publisher, they can limit or undermine your ability to use your work in the future.

Before signing a publication agreement, consider whether it will permit you to use your work in particular ways in the future. For instance, will it permit you to do any of the following?

  • Post some version (preprint, postprint, or final published version) of your work on an institutional repository (e.g., Deep Blue), a subject archive (e.g., the arXiv), your personal website, and/or a social network (e.g., Academia.edu)
  • Use your work in teaching, conference presentations, etc.
  • Use your work in future publications, including your dissertation

If you have questions about what your publication agreement means, contact the Library Copyright Office.

Retaining Your Rights With an Author's Addendum

If your publication agreement does not allow you to use your work in the ways that you would like, you may want to talk with your publisher about changing the terms of the agreement before you sign it. The University of Michigan Author's Addenda may be useful to you during that negotiation process. Many publishers are amenable to changes to certain aspects of publication agreements. Most also have provisions that are "deal-breakers" for them, on which they are unable to compromise. If your publisher is unable to change the agreement in the ways that you want, it is up to you to decide whether you still wish to publish with them, even if you can't keep all of the rights you want.

If you have questions about using the Author’s Addenda, please email the Library Copyright Office.

Understanding Your Rights as an Author

When you publish an article, book, chapter, or other scholarly work, your publisher will ask you to sign a publication agreement. This document is sometimes also called an "author agreement," or "copyright transfer agreement." It will typically include a statement about who owns the copyright to the written work in question, any other (exclusive or non-exclusive) rights of the author and publisher, terms for royalties (if applicable), and preferred methods of citation for the work. Because these agreements typically involve at least some transfer of copyright to your publisher, they can limit or undermine your ability to use your work in the future.

Before signing a publication agreement, consider whether it will permit you to use your work in particular ways in the future. For instance, will it permit you to do any of the following?

  • Post some version (preprint, postprint, or final published version) of your work on an institutional repository (e.g., Deep Blue), a subject archive (e.g., the arXiv), your personal website, and/or a social network (e.g., Academia.edu)
  • Use your work in teaching, conference presentations, etc.
  • Use your work in future publications, including your dissertation

If you have questions about what your publication agreement means, contact the Library Copyright Office.

Retaining Your Rights With an Author's Addendum

If your publication agreement does not allow you to use your work in the ways that you would like, you may want to talk with your publisher about changing the terms of the agreement before you sign it. The University of Michigan Author's Addenda may be useful to you during that negotiation process. Many publishers are amenable to changes to certain aspects of publication agreements. Most also have provisions that are "deal-breakers" for them, on which they are unable to compromise. If your publisher is unable to change the agreement in the ways that you want, it is up to you to decide whether you still wish to publish with them, even if you can't keep all of the rights you want.

If you have questions about using the Author’s Addenda, please email the Library Copyright Office.

Open Access: An Alternative Model for Academic Publishing

As a scholar, it's likely you want to ensure that colleagues, the general public, or other interested parties can read and share your work.

The Open Access movement aims to remove the traditional restrictions imposed by some publishers and increase access to research. Publishing your work under an Open Access model can help you share it more widely.

For more information about Open Access, see the University of Michigan Library's Open Access research guide. You may also want to read Open Access, a short book by Peter Suber, an expert in the field.

Discounts for University of Michigan Authors

The following publishers offer discounted article processing charges (APCs) for University of Michigan authors.