Copyright for Researchers: Publishing your work

Copyright for VU researchers

If you wish to modify your publishing agreement, and reclaim some of your rights, you can download the addendum from the site above and negotiate with your publisher. 

  • You can try a different publisher
  • Ask your colleagues about their experiences
  • Investigate the Open Access options

Useful links

Top tips

  • Any third party work such as images, maps, diagrams or art work should have permission and it would be wise to keep copies so that if you wish to publish your work elsewhere you can reference any permissions easily.
  • If you wish to publish your work you will need to decide how you intend to publish – as a full book or only parts of it as journal articles, conference papers or chapters in a book of collected works.
  • Choose a suitable publication model whether
    • with an established academic publisher
    • or open access publishing which is generally a form of e-publishing
    • or you can do self-publishing which is not always recommended.
  • Be aware of any publishing conditions associated with your funding grants as you may need to make your work available as Open Access.
  • It would also be useful to consider what you wish to do with your work in the future. For instance, if you wish to copy, distribute, make adaptions or add it to an Open Access repository you will need retain some of the rights.

Commercial  publishing?

Commercial publishers agreements

Most Publisher Agreements will list a range of terms and conditions of use including:


  • All or some
  • Can be specific


  • Can expire after a period of time
  • Ongoing unless specified
  • Reversion clauses – allows you to reclaim some rights if certain conditions are not met

Agreements usually cover:


  • World-wide rights
  • Specific countries, regions
  • Languages covered


  • Are you the copyright owner?
  • Any 3rd party materials used?
  • Often accompanied by an indemnity

Contracts and Licences and your rights


  • transfer or sale of your rights to another person or organisation such as a publisher
  • you can no longer exercise an exclusive right, such as copy, publish, adapt, perform or communicate.  This means you need to get permission from the new copyright owner if you wish to email your work to colleagues or you wish to rewrite your work.
  • must be in writing and signed to be valid
  • you still retain your moral right to be acknowledged as the creator as moral rights cannot be assigned or sold

Exclusive Licence

  • you still own copyright
  • as the licence is exclusive to the new owner you are unable to use the material or give permission to others to use the material
  • Exclusive licences must be in writing and signed to be valid
  • Moral rights are retained

Non-exclusive Licence

  • a non-exclusive licence is the best way you can give permission to another to use your material while still retaining your rights - you still own copyright - you can still use the material yourself 
  • you can continue to give permission to others as long as this is in the form of a non-exclusive licence
  • Non-exclusive licences can be given verbally but it is always better to if it is in writing in case of dispute
  • Any licensee must respect moral rights

Creative Commons or Open Access Licences

When submitting your thesis or work to the Victoria University Research Repository you are asked to give a Creative Commons (CC-BY) licence to your work so that it can be openly used by others.

Check out the Creative Commons website to understand the various licensing options and how to apply the licences to your work - or to see how you can use other works with a Creative Commons licence for your creation.

There are several options available to an author when thinking about Open Access publishing but the two most common are:

Gold Access

A researcher pays for an article to be published in an Open Access journal or an otherwise subscription-based journal, this is also known as hybrid publishing. Your Research Services or grant body may have funding available for this option.

Green Access

In this system, research findings are placed in repositories that are free to access generally. Usually there will be an embargo period between publication in the journal and general open access.

The Sherpa/Romeo list provides information on most publishers' policies regarding copyright agreements. Search for the journal of your choice and it will explain your self-archiving rights and link out to documentation from the publisher.