Guide to Best Practices Section 2

Statements of Best Practices for Editors of LIS Journals

July 2009
Revised September 2010

Section 2: Authors Rights Practices

Background on Agreement Types

Publishers usually require some sort of agreement with their authors in order to publish their article. Some types of agreements include:

  1. Copyright Transfer Agreements where the author transfers copyright entirely over to the publisher, who often grants some rights (such as to disseminate in the author’s classroom) back to the author.
  2. Modifications of Agreements where an author transfers (permanently or temporarily) their copyright but the publisher allows for specific uses of the work desired by the author.
  3. Author Addendum – Some authors choose to retain certain rights or make rights explicit with an Author Addendum. Others are required by a third party (grantor or employer) to include an author addendum with their copyright transfer agreement. Examples include:

  • Standard licenses by third parties, such as a Creative Commons license (, which give authors the ability to keep the rights they want and allows others to know how the work can be reused.

Background on Copyright Options

With a few exceptions (see below), authors have copyright until they sign it away. Publishers often need to license some rights to publish the work within the constraints of their business model.

Several possibilities exist for how authors can handle their intellectual property: authors sign an exclusive rights transfer, authors can permit a nonexclusive rights transfer, or authors can retain copyright and license some rights.

Some authors must work under a third party’s conditions and therefore have constraints on what can be done with their work:

  • Authors may need to honor a pre-existing license or agreement (for example, as a condition of their employment).
  • US Government employees’ works are considered in the public domain.
  • Some funders' policies state that as a condition of receiving funding, their work must be deposited in the funder’s repository.
  • Some institutions have policies requiring work done at the institution must be deposited in the institution’s repository.

2–1: Permissions

Regardless of the type of agreement reached between the publisher and author, agreements should allow for authors to have the following permissions without payment:

Permissions for Sharing

  • Rights or permissions needed for author to post some version of the work on the author’s Web site
  • Rights or permissions needed for author to deposit some version of the work in public repositories
  • Author should retain any rights needed to comply with funder requirements or institutional policies

Permissions for Teaching

  • Rights or permissions needed for author to use for course reserves
  • Rights or permissions needed for author to use for course packs

Permissions for Future Use

  • Rights or permissions needed for author to use for derivative works
  • Rights or permissions needed for author to use for anthologies

2–2: Editor Responsibilities

It is appropriate for editors to advocate on behalf of authors. Editors play an important role related to author rights with both publishers and authors.

Work with Publishers

  • Editors should work to ensure the broadest access to their publication and the ability for authors to use their own works. With regard to copyright and usage rights, they should work closely with their journal’s publisher to ensure as much access as possible within the constraints of the publisher’s business model.
  • Editors should advocate for more open agreements with their publishers.
  • Editors should encourage their publishers to accept addenda where there are pre-existing arrangements or policies.
  • Editors should advocate for exceptions when they believe it is in the best interest of the journal.

Work with Authors

  • Editors should provide authors with information on the publisher's author rights agreement upon initial contact and have a responsibility to potential authors to respond with any questions or concerns about the provided statements.
  • Editors often understand how publishers will react when an author puts forward changes to agreements, so editors should present authors with their agreement options and educate them on what it means to sign away copyrights.
  • Editors should encourage or assist in self-archiving in the LIS subject repository and the author's institutional repository.
  • Editors should encourage authors to consider how they want to use their works and what rights they want to retain.

Section 3: Preservation

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