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Research Guides

Nuts & Bolts of Scholarly Publishing: Journal Contracts: Deciding to Sign

All you need to get started selecting journals for publication and reviewing author's agreements

Evaluating a Journal Publishing Contract

Publishing contracts can significantly impact your control of and ability to use your article over a long period of time. Read the agreement carefully and consider its implications before signing - having not fully read or understood a contract will not relieve you of your obligation to comply with it.

Think Ahead: How Do You Want to Use the Article?

Determine if a publishing contract meets your needs by thinking about how you could envision yourself using the article in the future. Review the contract (particularly the "Rights Retained" or "Permitted Uses" sections) with these in mind. Will the contract allow you to use the article in the ways that you want? Will it restrict you to using a particular version of the article or force you to wait for an embargo period to expire?

Incorporating an Article into a Thesis or Dissertation

Student authors should pay particular attention to how the contract may affect their ability to reuse or adapt the article for inclusion in their thesis or dissertation. At the University of Washington, theses must be deposited to ResearchWorks, the University's repository, and published electronically through ProQuest. Authors can delay their thesis being made publicly available, but only for a limited period of time, so contractual restrictions that prohibit an article from being placed in a repository or being republished as part of a larger work could interfere with a student's ability to incorporate it into their thesis.

Read more about the University of Washington's policies on theses and dissertations here:

Potential Future Uses to Consider:

  • Using the article in the classroom and distributing electronic or paper copies to students
  • Making the article available on an electronic reserve or enrollment-restricted course management system, such as Canvas
  • Republishing the article as a book chapter
  • Using charts or figures from the article in a subsequent publication
  • Including the article (or an adapted or revised version of the article) in your thesis or dissertation
  • Depositing the article in the University of Washington's open access repository or a disciplinary repository or pre-print server (i.e. arXiv, bioRxiv, etc.)
  • Posting the article on your personal website or university profile
  • Posting the article on an academic networking site (i.e. Mendeley, ResearchGate, etc.) (publishing contracts often refer to these types of sites as "Scholarly Collaboration Networks")

 

The publishing agreement may place conditions on how and when an author can exercise any rights retained. The right to post an article on a website or deposit it in a repository, for instance, is often limited to specific versions of the article, particularly the "pre-print" (the article as first submitted to the publisher) and/or the "post-print" (the revised version of the article accepted for publication following completion of peer, editorial, or other review).

The following resources provide more guidance on article versions and rights retained pursuant to a publishing contract:

Learn More:

 

 

This guide and the accompanying workshop materials were created by Rochelle Lundy and Julia Hon, University of Washington iSchool class of 2018.