A short while ago I posted an item about the concerns authors have when asked to deposit their final accepted draft manuscripts in their institutional repository. In that post, I outlined some reasons why it is a good thing, a safe thing, and increasingly a necessary thing to do, as well as discussing the possibility of open access publishing as a means for those who only wish to see the publisher’s PDF version out there in the public domain.
It has only just occurred to me, having had this discussion again with one of our academics here at the OU, that I should also have mentioned another potential route to open access: retaining rights at the copyright agreement stage.
Most authors of journal papers (perhaps through loyalty to, or fear of, their publisher) will sign a form upon acceptance of their paper, transferring copyright to the publisher, without a second thought. By doing this, the author is then bound by the terms of that agreement, which typically provides very limited rights to the author for reproduction, redistribution, and public disemination of the article.
The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) have an addendum that can be printed, signed, and attached to the copyright transfer agreement which the publisher sends you. Assuming the publisher agrees to the addendum (i.e. signs it), the author(s) then retain much broader rights over any version of that paper, including being able to deposit the final published version in their institutional repository.