For Authors: Copyright and Scholarly Communication

Overview of issues

Under the traditional model of scholarly communication and publishing, authors typically assign copyright to their publishers, particularly in the case of articles published in journals. This means that subject to variations in individual agreements, authors essentially sign away their rights to:

  • Reproduce the work
  • Distribute the work
  • Make derivatives (adaptations) from the work
  • Publicly perform or display the work

This can cause problems for authors who want to use their own work in other settings, such as for classroom use or contributions to an open institutional repository. Authors who wish to reuse their own works for which the copyright has been assigned to a publisher generally have no more right to use that work than any other unrelated individual.

Many universities and funding agencies now require some level of open access by mandating that research data or even the final product of the research be made available in open access repositories. This trend is transforming the scholarly publishing industry and forcing all players to look at new funding and business models so these materials are available in a sustainable fashion.

Open access is a priority for UNCG. The Open Access Publishing Support Fund was created as a pilot project by the University Libraries and the Office of Research & Economic Development and funded at $11,500. Its purpose is to reduce barriers to open access publishing and to support UNCG's full-time faculty, full-time EPA employees, and enrolled graduate students who choose open access publishing as the best venue for their work. The University Libraries and the Office of Research & Economic Development established this pilot project.


Your scholarly output can be made available to a wider audience in a variety of ways that will allow you to retain additional rights to your work, including:

  • Publishing in open access publications
  • Distributing your work via a Creative Commons license
  • Negotiating agreements with your publishers that permit inclusion in open access repositories, either immediately or after a predefined period of exclusivity (embargo)

Ownership of works created by UNCG employees

In general, UNCG policy is to waive its claim of copyright ownership on most works created by EPA faculty and nonfaculty employees except in some cases of exceptional use of institutional resources. UNCG is, where practical, granted a shop right, a non-exclusive, nontransferable, royalty-free license to reproduce, distribute, publicly perform, publicly display, or make derivative works of the copyrighted work, for educational or research purposes only.

Copyright on works created by SPA employees and independent contractors as part of their employment generally belongs to UNCG, although in some circumstances, arrangements can be made to share copyrights, assign shop rights, etc.

More information is available in the UNCG Copyright Ownership and Use Policy

Quick Links

Scholar's Copyright Addendum Engine
The Scholar's Copyright Addendum Engine will help you generate a PDF form that you can attach to a journal publisher's copyright agreement to ensure that you retain certain rights.

Use this site to find a summary of permissions that are normally given as part of each publisher's copyright transfer agreement.

Open access resources at UNCG

Scholarly Communication at UNCG: A guide from the University Libraries

Open Journal Systems: UNCG's open access publishing platform for academic journals

NCDOCKS: UNCG's open access institutional repository

Scholarly Communications Committee: Supports the university’s research and teaching missions by consulting with and advising university faculty in matters relating to the dissemination, use, and archiving of information and knowledge.

Open Access Publishing Support Fund: Pilot program at UNCG

For additional information

Owning and Using Scholarship: An IP Handbook for Teachers and Researchers by Kevin L. Smith, JD

Open Access Overview by Peter Suber

SPARC: The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition

10 Things You Should Know About Scholarly Communication (Association of College and Research Libraries)