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Many Academic journals have standards in regards to the usage of their copyrighted materials but these rights can be distorted by means of the author agreements with the original creator. Most journals involve the transfer of copyright by authors to the journal or publisher when the manuscript is accepted for publication. Most publishers, especially those in the science and technology genre force authors to give up their copyrights that the law has given to the scholars of the original works. This can become a problem for scholarly contributors because there is an uncertainty about how much influence they will have over the usage of their own works. The institution can lose rights to the product if an author’s right agreement is negotiated incorrectly. However, some journals, such as open access journals, do not require transfer of copyright. The main objective of this project is to display the importance of author rights within Lehigh Valley Health Network’s Scholarly Works. Many health professionals throughout the network have to incorporate a working knowledge of author rights before signing over copyright to major publishing firms. The consequences of any mistakes within this realm can impact the individual as well as LVHN.


Online communication has offered an exciting venue for the distribution of information throughout the academic fields. This has resulted in the open access movement to a variety of scholarly work within academia. Open Access is the availability of information to all participants. However; publisher’s reaction to open access has also made it more difficult for authors to retain their rights over their works. The United States Government has tried to remedy the situation as early as 1989 during the advent of the computer age. According to Bachrach et al. (1998), “The U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, as revised and extended by U.S. adherence to the Berne Convention in 1989, shifted the legal balance of control from publishers to authors. Previously, copyright law protected a work only if an author or publisher registered it, which the publisher invariably did. Copyright now inheres in a work from the moment it is fixed in a tangible medium of expression” (p. 1459)

There are journals that are useful good examples of copyright agreements that give author privileges for academic purposes. According to Macrina (2008), “Typically copyright is assigned to the publisher by the submitting author on behalf of all the co-authors. JB (Journal of Bacteriology) allows authors to post articles they have written on their personal or university posted web site; posting on corporate or government web sites is not allowed….Allowing authors to retain copyright on their published works typically allows them to post PDFs on personal or institutional web sites” (p. 345-46). Journals such as these are very important to remember whenever one is faced with a dilemma regarding whether to sign copyright over. Transferring copyright over to a publishing entity does not always end with a legitimate article. The work does not always automatically become well known just because it is put within the directory of the scholarly website.

Rockefeller University gives authors more control over their works then most publishing agencies. Explanation by Hill and Rossner (2008) support this idea, “With the growing demand for public access to published data, we recently started depositing all of our content in PubMed Central. In a further step to enhance the utility of scientific content, we have not decided to return copyright to our authors,” (p. 405).

Cambridge Journals has definitions regarding copyright and research decisions that display an author’s non-transferable rights, “Author’s original (AO), any version of the article that is considered by the author to be of sufficient quality to be submitted for formal peer review by a second part. The author accepts full responsibility for the article. Content and layout are set up by the author,” ("Copyright and Repositories," 2008 p. 1). This statement by the publishing agency identifies the rights that the author has over their product and distinguishes the responsibilities of the creator and those of the publication entity.

Another way to prevent any dispute of author’s rights is through self-documentation regarding input into the article. According to Harnad (2003), “Authors can self-archive therein all the embryological stages of the research they wish to report (pre-refereeing preprints and its successive revisions), till the peer-reviewed journal- certified post print,” (p. 337).

Creative Commons is the tool being used to bridge the gap between the strict rules of copyright and the progress of open access. Brown (2003) states that, “ Creative Commons, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit corporation based at Stanford University in California, is led by a board of expert legal and technical thinkers….Creative Commons was founded on the idea that some people prefer to share their works on more generous terms than standard copyright provides” (p. 1).

Another component of this process is the definition of an author’s rights. According to LVHN’s Author Rights Training, created by LVHN Library Services author privileges are, “Rights that a creator retains in a published work after the transfer of some rights to a publisher through a legally binding author agreement.” These rights can be a crucial component of the notoriety and access that an institution or employee has regarding an academic work. If rights are not negotiated properly LVHN’s intellectual property as well as the ability for the institution to put these works up in the repository for other employees to view and build upon. The works are uploaded to the internet through Scholarly Works, LVHN’s repository. These author rights can be subject to dismantlement during the transfer of a copyright agreement. A transfer of copyright does not always have to hold authors back from their entire access to their works.

The culture that has developed out of a world of all access leaves a majority of power to a small minority of individuals. The major demographic who gets hurt are scientists and scholars because they do not get to thrive off of the power of an open market for research.

Current State

In regards to our institution’s policies it is critical that our authors retain their rights in accordance with LVHN Intellectual Property Policy. The best ways to retain these rights are through the tools of negotiation with the publishing entity. The reason why negotiation is important is due to the impact that it has on employees and the institution. Unless negotiated, LVHN and the scholar may have no more right than anyone else to use the article written once the author signed over materials. Another reason why negotiation is important is because LVHN Policy and Procedures recommends that authors negotiate to try to get the full text of their material deposited within the Scholarly Works repository. The Scholarly Works repository is a collection of material, created by LVHN employees, for the purpose of collecting, sharing, and preserving the works made by Lehigh Valley Health Network.

According to the Author Rights Training, created by library services, there are specific rights that author s must retain. These include the right for authors to distribute copies of the work to LVHN students or colleagues in print or electronically as well as the right to prepare derivative works from the article and make full use of the article in future research. An example of a derivative work includes creating a book chapter from the use of an article.

Not only is the impact of open access important for LVHN colleagues but so is the issue of copyright transfer. When signing away copyright it’s important for employees to understand what they are doing in the first place. According to Don (2012), “The copyright transfer process is analogous to the actions of a carpenter who builds a table (the manuscript) and signs the work indicating that it was made by him (the author) and then gives the table to his friend (the publisher) for her home (the journal) to be enjoyed by all diners who come to the home (the readers)” (p. 167). This analogy demonstrates the process by which a transfer of copyright can impact the original author and hand over power to the publishing entity. The practice of transferring author’s rights is a huge undertaking and publishing entities want to get the most out of a product if they have to invest in the processes behind it.

There is a solution for those who want to share their work with the greatest number of people for the sake of academic pursuit. Not all journals require a transfer of copyright. According to Peh (2010) “The majority of journals require authors to transfer copyright to the journal or publisher upon acceptance of the manuscript. However, some journals, particularly “open access” journals, do not require transfer of copyright” (p. 846). This can be a crucial benefit for any medical professionals who are trying to bridge the gap between contributing to the scholarly community and attaining fair usage for our institution and themselves. Open access journals are more likely to provide an easier mechanism for transferring knowledge to multiple parties in comparison to other publishing bodies.

In academia there also exists a provision entitled the Fair Use Doctrine that allows scholars to reuse ideas for the advancement of knowledge. According to Stern and Westenberg, “If the act of copyright is considered socially useful then a court would apply the fair-use doctrine-no copyright infringement would exist” (p. 1085). This doctrine can be used as an ulterior path for authors who still want to use their works for scientific advancement without any financial gain.

There are also many actions that can be taken at the author level in order to make sure that the process of publication has integrity. Adhering to the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) definition of authorship can be a viable means towards an objective classification of ownership within the academic community. Castillo (2009) says, “According to ICMJE, to be qualified as an author, one must meet all the following criteria: significant input into the concept and design of a study and analysis and interpretation of data, writing and revision contributions that are intellectually important, and assumed responsibility with respect to accuracy of the final contents” (p. 1455). This can be used as a guideline for any confusion regarding what an author’s rights are and the jurisdiction that they have over the final product.


Reviewing author agreements before signing away copyright is a crucial step that many scholars fail to adhere to which can save time and energy in the long run. Attending the Author rights class or consulting offered through LVHN Library Services. Consulting with the legal department before finalizing a contract can prevent any copyright dilemmas.


The environment that exists today regarding author rights can be hard to interpret for many scholars. It has become a part of the scientific method to sign over copyright once a product has been finished. Navigating the world of copyright requires an important set of skills which include patience and negotiating techniques. There are still opportunities for authors to use their works for academic purposes, which is usually the goal of research in the first place. The climate of copyright in a world of all access will be constantly changing as more scholars share their information with the world.


Bachrach, S., Berry, S., Blume, M., Foerster, T., Fowler, A., Ginsparg, P., et al. (1998, January 1). Who Should Own Scientific Papers. Science's Compass, 281, 1459-1460.

Baker, J. D. Walking the Copyright Tightrope. AORN Journal, 167-171.

Brown, G. Out of the Way . PLOS, 1.

Copyright and Repositories. (2008, January 1). . Retrieved January 1, 2008, from

Castillo, M. Authorship and Bylines. American Journal of Neuroradiology, 1455-1456.

Harnad, S. pen Access to Peer- Reviewed Research through Author/Institution Self Archiving: Maximizing Research Impact by Maximizing Online Access. E-Medicine, 337-40.

Macrina, F. L. Teaching Authorship and Publication Practices in the Biomedical and Life Sciences. Science and Engineering Ethics, 341-354.

Peh, W. Conflict-of-interest, copyright and other declarations. Singapore Medical Journal, 51, 844-47.

Rossner, M. You wrote it; you own it!. The Journal of Cell Biology, 405-406.

Westenberg, L. Copyright law and academic radiology: rights of authors and copyright owners and reproduction of information.. American Journal of Roentgenology, 1083-1088.


Mentor: Kristine Petre


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