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Open Access Toolkit: Copyright ownership

Copyright ownership

Author rights

The legal relationship between the academic and the publisher is an important one.

"Academics who properly manage their legal rights in their work will find that not only does this allow them to provide open access to their work, thus contributing to the public stock of knowledge, but that it also provides them with greater control over their work and greater rights to reuse their own work post publication.” Pappalardo, Kylie M., Fitzgerald, Brian F., Fitzgerald, Anne M., Kiel-Chisholm, Scott D., Georgiades, , & Austin, Anthony C. (2008) Understanding Open Access in the Academic Environment: A Guide for Authors.

Publishing agreements

The publishing world is changing and today authors are able to make publishing choices that will give them more control of their work and its accessibility, choices which balance author rights and publisher rights.

Copyright ownership and what you as an author can do with that work will be impacted by the publishing agreements you sign.

  • If you publish your work in an institutional repository or OA journal, some publishers may not accept this work as it is considered already published.
  • If you publish your work in a commercial journal the publisher agreement may limit future publishing options for that work.
  • If you have already published articles from your thesis during candidature, there may be publisher restrictions on making it fully accessible in an institutional repository. 

Publishers policies on versions of outputs permitted in institutional repositories may include pre-prints, post-prints and publisher versions. In cases where there may be conflict between existing agreements and other publication options, it will be necessary to seek permission from the publisher.

Planning Resources

Developing a publishing plan at the outset of your research journey will provide a tool for managing your ownership effectively. Below are links to current and relevant resources to help you make informed publishing decisions.


ISC/SPARC author rights video

This brief 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.