Astrid Bovell on November 18th, 2011
1. Do I own the copyright in my thesis? Or is the copyright owned by the University?
Generally speaking, you will own the copyright in your thesis. The only exception to this is if you have collaborated with others, or if you have received funding from an organisation who have asserted in their contract with you that they will own or co-own the copyright.
2. Who owns copyright in a published journal article I’ve written?
It depends on what is written into your contract with the publisher. Some publishing contracts will ask you to transfer your copyright in the article over to the publisher but will licence some rights back to you. This means that the publisher owns copyright but they will allow you to do certain things with your work (i.e. put a draft copy on your website). Other publishers may allow you to retain the copyright in your article, but will ask you to licence a number of exclusive rights to them that will allow them to use your article for whatever purposes you agree to.
3. If I digitally submit my thesis, can I still publish it later?
Digitally submitting your thesis is different from publishing it. Be careful when you submit your thesis to make selections that best accommodate your future plans for your thesis. If you intend to publish your thesis at a later date, investigate whether your discipline area encourages open access publishing or not. If they do, then it’s likely there will be little issue in your making your thesis available for open access on the repository when you digitally submit it. If you intend to publish in a high ranking academic journal, check what their policies are – author policies can usually be found on the publisher’s website. Many high profile publishers of academic journals prefer to have exclusive publishing rights and therefore may not allow for material that’s been published previously online through the University repository. If that’s the case, you can still submit your thesis digitally, just ensure that you select the option for not making your thesis available for open access through UMER.
4. I’ve published a chapter of my thesis in a journal, can I still make my thesis available in the repository for public access?
You may be able to, it depends on the journal or the publisher’s policies as to whether they’ll allow this. Some publishers may allow you to but may place an embargo on the published chapter, which means you will be able to make that chapter available after a specified time period. If the publisher or journal won’t allow you to use the chapter, you can make a request to the Digital Repositories team to hide the chapter from view for copyright reasons.
5. I wrote an article for a journal some years ago and now I want to use the article in another publication, can I do that?
Unless it states otherwise in your publishing contract, this won’t be allowed without consent from the publisher.
6. I wrote a piece that’s been published in a text book, can I put the article on our department website?
Some publishers allow authors to post a draft version of their article on their personal or institutional website. Check your publisher’s policies and if it’s not included, ask for their permission.
7. I want to publish my lecture notes. Can I do this?
The University’s IP Statute dictates that the University owns the copyright in any teaching material you create. But that doesn’t mean that the answer is no, it just means that you have to seek permission from the University, which you can do by contacting us and requesting permission.
8. Is it okay to use a diagram from somewhere in an article I want to publish so long as I cite it?
A diagram is considered an artistic work and permission should be sought from the copyright owner before publishing.
9. I created a blog post for our department blog, I’d like to republish the blog post another website, is that okay?
Generally, if you have created something as part of your job role as a professional staff member, the copyright in your creation is likely to be owned by your employer. The copyright ownership in material you create as part of your job should be discussed and detailed in your employment contract. Again this doesn’t mean that it’s not possible, but you will need to seek permission from your employer if they own the copyright in the post you’ve created.
10. I’ve been told to just sign the Publisher’s agreement if I want to get published, is there a problem with this?
YES! A BIG one!! You should never sign anything without reading it first! Publishing contracts contain all sorts of conditions relating to your rights and how you can use your work in the future. Read the contract carefully to ensure that you agree with the rights you’ve been given and know what you can and can’t do with your work. If you’re not happy with the conditions, the publisher may have an alternative contract available. Alternatively, you may be able to negotiate with the publisher for different terms, either on your own, or if you feel it’s necessary, with the assistance of a lawyer. If you don’t understand something that is in the contract, seek assistance or legal advice.