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Research Guides@Tufts

Scholarly Publishing

Copyright for authors

Copyright is a form of legal protection for authors of original academic and creative works. U.S. law grants copyright holders a bundle of exclusive rights, including rights to reproduce, distribute, and display works. Since 1978, copyright is automatically conferred to the creator of a work at the moment of creation without any need to register. 

For work created at Tufts, the Tufts Intellectual Property policy states:

  • for faculty: "...ownership of copyrightable intellectual property shall remain with the faculty member"
  • for students: "Students generally own the copyright to academic work they produce. Academic work can include class papers, theses, dissertations, artistic and musical works, and other creative works produced by University students."

Therefore, if you're a Tufts author, you likely hold copyright to your work unless it was transferred to someone else (like a journal publisher).

Read more about copyright from the Tufts Scholarly Communications Team.

Author's rights

All publishers will require you to sign or click through an author’s agreement before publishing an article. This contract will spell out what rights you retain as an author, and what rights the publisher reserves from your work. Look for:

  • Do you keep copyright to your work?
  • Can you share copies of the article with your colleagues or use it in your teaching?
  • Can you post a copy in the Tufts Digital Library, on a pre-print server, or another scholarly sharing site?
  • Can you reuse content published in the article? (if you’re a grad student, check especially to see if you can use it in your thesis!)

Why is this important? Because if an author’s agreement grants all rights to the publisher, you’ll have to ask permission to use or share your own work in the future. Read more about author’s rights.

To find out more about publisher’s policies:

  • Look up the journal in SHERPA/RoMEO
  • Try Googling “[Journal name] author’s rights”
  • Ask us! We can help you evaluate a contract before signing it, or help determine what rights you have to an article you’ve already published.

Tufts has a model amendment to publisher’s agreements that you can use to ensure you retain non-exclusive rights to use your work and to make it widely available.

Any questions?

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Andrea Schuler
Copyright and Open Scholarship Librarian

Tisch Library
35 Professors Row
Medford, MA 02155