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Scholarly Communications@WSU

A guide for Faculty and Librarians covering DigitalCommons@WayneState, Author's Rights, Open Access, and other related topics.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is scholarly communications?

Scholarly communications is an umbrella term used to describe the process of academics, scholars, and researchers sharing and publishing their research findings so that they are available to as wide an academic community as possible, and even beyond. It involves the creation, transformation, dissemination, and preservation of knowledge related to teaching, research, and scholarly endeavors. Issues include: Author rights & copyright, economics of scholarly resources, open access, new models of publishing, institutional repositories, rights and access to federally-funded research, and preservation of intellectual property.

What is copyright?

Copyright is a bundle of various rights that allows the holder (author or publisher) to retain ownership and rights as to the use, dissemination, display, and modification of the work in digital or print format in connection with academic and professional activities.

What is open access?

"Open Access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions," according to Peter Suber. This refers to unrestricted online access to articles published in scholarly journals. Open Access has also been broadly defined as freely available on the Internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of articles without financial, legal, or technical barriers.

What is an institutional repository?

An institutional repository, such as Digital Commons@WSU, is an electronic space to house and preserve the intellectual output of Wayne State University and make said work available to anyone without restrictions. Institutional repositories not only accept articles, but also books, research notes, presentations, video & audio, images, conference papers, and conference posters.

Why are the issues of scholarly communications and open access important today?

Journal subscription costs are outstripping library budgets, which has lead to the loss of access to scholarly research literature. Each year libraries and universities can afford to subscribe to fewer journals. Over the past 15 years, the price of research journals has risen 200% and libraries have had to cut subscriptions and monograph expenditures to keep within their budget. Scholarly communications and open access allow not only the library to keep costs down, but also allows the research to retain important author rights to their intellectual output.

What are Author Rights, and why should I pay attention to them?

Authors retain copyright of their work as soon as the work is in a fixed, tangible medium. However, under the traditional academic publishing model, authors are typically forced to transfer all ownership and rights to the publisher. If an author relinquishes all their rights, they significantly decrease their ability to control their work and have no further rights to use the work without permission from the publisher. Author Rights are whatever rights the author needs in order to optimize dissemination of their work or research. Due to the growing use of the Internet to find current research, the right to disseminate, archive, or reuse work is almost as important as the content. Authors are encouraged to retain the rights they need in order to reuse and disseminate their work in connection with academic and professional activities such as teaching and future research.

What types of Author Rights do I need to retain?

Authors should retain any rights that aid in teaching and future research. At the very least, authors should obtain the rights to put their work in an institutional repository, self-archive it on their website, make copies for personal and educational use, and comply with public access mandates (NIH Policy and FRPAA).

How do I negotiate with publishers regarding my rights as an author?

Author Rights varies from publisher to publisher. Some publishers automatically grant authors certain rights up front, such as self-archiving. Usually, authors will have to get an author's addendum added to their copyright contract that allows for further rights such as depositing to your institutional repository, ability to copy your work and share with students and colleagues, post on a laboratory website, and the right to make derivative works. There are tools such as the Author Addendum created by SPARC that allow you to simply print out and sign a form outlining what you would like your rights to be and then submit this to the publisher. Make sure the publisher agrees to the addendum before signing away your copyright. Negotiation will be an ongoing conversation between you and the editor of the journal. If your addendum is not accepted, contact the publisher or editor to find out way it was not accepted. At this point you can either continue negotiation or find another journal that will allow you to retain some of your rights.

How do I locate publisher copyright policies?

There are many ways to locate publisher copyright policies. The first is to look under "Instructions for Authors" or "Copyright Information" on the journal website (or in the front/back matter of a print-only journal). Most publishers provide information for authors as to what uses are permitted under the publisher's copyright policy for a given journal. The second is to review the publisher's copyright agreement form to determine what rights a publisher will allow an author to retain and any stipulations that must be followed. NOTE: policies may vary among journals even if they put out by the same publisher. You can also use the Sherpa/Romeo to look up a journal title or publisher copyright policy at

What is the difference between pre-print, post-print, and final publisher version?

Pre-print is the manuscript the author has submitted for peer-review. Post-print  is the manuscript that includes any changes made by the author as part of the peer-review process. Final Publisher version is the publishers final version of the manuscript, including layout, pagination, and location of graphics. NOTE: Most publishers will agree to the posting of a pre-print or a post-print version in an institutional repository or website.

How do I find out if a journal is open access?

The easiest way to find out if a journal is open access and what levels of author rights they offer to to research a journal title in the SHERPA/RoMEO database, a freely accessible resource on the Internet.  You can also check the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) at

How does open access publishing differ from traditional publishing?

Open Access publishers allow either unfettered access or partial access (via an institutional repository) to research in peer-reviewed journals in a digital format that is free from most copyright and licensing restrictions. The main difference between open access publishing and traditional publishing is that authors are able to retain part, if not all, copyright to their work. Sometimes authors may be asked to pay a small fee for processing and allowing open access.

How do I, as a researcher, benefit from open access publishing and open access policies?

Researchers and authors benefit greatly from open access publishing because it allows for greater dissemination of their work. By retaining copyright, you are able to do almost anything with your work, including publishing in an institutional repository, publishing on a website or laboratory site, and publishing to other scholarly websites in which researchers wish to share information. Your benefit is allowing other researchers to view your work, allowing for greater indexing and distribution.

Are there other universities involved in open access publishing policies?

Yes, many other universities and research institutions have enacted open access policies. Harvard Faculty have allowed the university to license and distribute journal articles for non-commercial purposes. The University of Oregon, University of Massachusetts Amherst, University of Wisconsin, University of Minnesota, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, University of California, Case Western University, Columbia University, Cornell University, University of Kansas, and the University of Connecticut have all passed resolutions on open access publishing.

Does Wayne State University have a resolution or policy on open access publishing?

No, at this time, WSU does not have an official policy regarding open access publishing.

Do open access journals use the same peer review process as traditionally published journals?

Yes, open access journals have the same peer review process. It is a common misconception that open access simply entails putting anything on the Internet. Open access journals function on a peer review model that is just as stringent as traditional publishing. The fact that these articles are published openly and on the Internet does not mean that the peer review process is not in place. Open access allows for greater access to research, but is not an easier way to publish your work.

Is it possible to cover the costs of publishing in open access journals in a grant?

Yes. Although not often a line item in the grant writing process, most scientists include any costs of open access publishing in their grant.

At what point can I put my article in your institutional repository?

You can put your work into our repository at any point. However, it is important to check with the publisher or the SHERPA/RoMEO database to make sure you are able to immediately deposit your work, or deposit previously published articles.

What does it mean to archive my work?

Archiving your work refers to self-archiving on a personal website. 83% of publishers currently allow self-archiving. To self-archive is to deposit a digital document in a publicly accessible website, preferably DigitalCommons@Wayne State. Depositing involves a simple web interface where the depositer copy/pastes in the "metadata"  (date, author-name, title, journal-name, etc.) and then attaches the full-text document.  Self-archiving takes only about 10 minutes for the first paper and even less time for all subsequent papers.

How is a mandatory deposit policy different from a policy on open access?

A mandatory deposit policy, such as the NIH mandate, requires you to post the final peer-reviewed article or research report in a government repository. An open access policy is not required, but something that you negotiate with publishers.

What are the different types of publishing models available today?

There are four main types of publishing models available today. The first is traditional publishing, the second is open access publishing. There are also two other models - Hybrid and Repository publishing. The Hybrid model allows for researchers who publish in the traditional manner to participate in an open access means of dissemination. This means the author pays a fee upfront to designate their article as open access. Fees can range from $1000 to $3000, but can be covered in a grant application.

What is the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA)?

The Federal Research Public Access Act was introduced into Congress in 2006. This Act would require 11 government agencies to make the research they fund publically available in digital format in an archive or a repository within six months of publication. It has been reintroduced in April of 2010. For more information see the Alliance for Taxpayer Access.