Determining Whether You May Post a Document to Academic Commons

To post a document (i.e., digital content of any type) to Academic Commons you must either:


(1) be the copyright holder of that document or

(2) be licensed by the copyright holder to distribute the document through an open access digital archive.


It is a fairly straightforward process to determine whether you have the right to post any given document to Academic Commons. At the time you create a document, you simultaneously become its copyright holder. Unless you transfer the copyright to another person or organization, you remain the copyright holder and may elect to distribute your document through Academic Commons or by any other means. In the course of formally publishing journal articles and other works of scholarship, most academic authors sign a publishing agreement that specifies whether they reserve the right to make that publication available online. In some cases, placing a copy of that work in an open access digital archive is permitted, and in others, such placement is prohibited by the agreement.


In short, then, there is a quick and easy way to determine whether you may post a document to Academic Commons:


Your signed publishing agreement indicates whether you have the retained the right to post your document to Academic Commons—the Stony Brook University Libraries Center for Scholarly Communication open access scholarly repository. If your document does not fall under the terms of a formal publishing agreement, then you retain the right as the document’s creator to provide access through the University Libraries Academic Commons service.



You may contact your publisher for permission to post your article to Academic Commons even if not explicitly permitted by your publishing agreement. Message templates already exist on the Web to help you with this.


There are two valuable tools available to Stony Brook University authors to help them determine and retain their rights:


1. The Sherpa/Romeo service provides a large index of the copyright policies of many of the most common publishers and journals. Although the Sherpa/Romeo service cannot be used to indicate the exact copyright terms for any single document, it is a useful tool when researching publisher positions on author-archiving practice, either before or after selecting a journal in which to publish. If you would like help in understanding the applications and limitations of the Sherpa/Romeo service, please contact either the liaison librarian for your department or Darren Chase, Head of the Center for Scholarly Communication.


2. SPARC has drafted a legal instrument that modifies the publisher’s agreement and allows you to keep key rights to your articles — the Author Addendum to Publication Agreement for use with all academic publishing agreements. The addendum negotiates the right of the author to provide access to a digital copy of his or her research article through Academic Commons or another open access repository.



The addendum is available at the following address:

If you have additional questions about the Academic Commons service, please contact Darren Chase, Head of the Center for Scholarly Communication.




–adopted from “Determining Whether You May Post A Document To E-Pubs”