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Open access and rights retention

About this page

This page contains information about the SHU Research Publications and Copyright Policy for authors outside SHU who are publishing as a co-author with a colleague from Sheffield Hallam University.

Information for co-authors

What is the SHU rights retention mechanism?

Sheffield Hallam University has adopted a Research Publications and Copyright Policy, which allows authors of scholarly papers to retain certain copyrights over their Author Accepted Manuscript rather than signing those rights away to the publisher. 

Under this Policy, all Sheffield Hallam authors are automatically licensing their University, as part of their employment conditions, to make the Author Accepted Manuscript of their scholarly papers available from the University's repository immediately from the day of first publication under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence. In order to ensure there is clarity about this position in copyright law, they need to include the following Rights Retention Statement in their submissions to journals and conference proceedings:

“For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission.”

The Statement simply announces to the publisher that the authors have already applied the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence to the peer-reviewed manuscript that will arise from your submission. (You can apply licences to work that does not yet exist.) Once the publisher has accepted your submission for publication in the full knowledge that you have already applied a licence to the peer-reviewed manuscript, this manuscript can be made available from the University’s repository from the day of first publication under the Creative Commons Attribution licence, without anyone breaking copyright law.

 

 

"I’m looking forward to being able to maintain the rights to the work that I have done as it is gives me more scope to share articles on social media, increase readership and make it easier for policymakers and practitioners to engage with my research. They can then use it to improve their practice and make probation more effective with no one being in breach of copyright law!"

Jake Phillips, Reader in Criminology, Sheffield Hallam University

This mechanism of (copy)rights retention has been used by Harvard University without problems since 2008. In the UK, the universities of Edinburgh and Cambridge have implemented similar rights retention mechanisms as Sheffield Hallam, and it is expected that other universities in the UK will follow over the next months and years. The same mechanism is also used by the international open access initiative, cOAlition S, in which mostly European funders of research participate,  including the European Commission, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). It is aso used by funders that align with cOAlition S principles, such as the Wellcome Trust, and the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR). These research funders require their authors to include the same Rights Retention Statement as Sheffield Hallam does. 

 

Won't this limit my opportunities to publish?

No. The experience from the organisations that have already adopted a rights retention mechanism is encouraging. Of course, publishers are free to not consider such manuscripts but as soon as they accept such a manuscript for publication, in the knowledge that there is a prior licence attached to it, the prior licence to SHU takes precedence over any subsequent licence in copyright law.

If your chosen publisher will not consider your submission because of the prior licence, and you feel you cannot publish your paper in another journal, then your SHU co-author can opt out of the Sheffield Hallam policy. This means that they can apply a different licence than CC BY, and introduce a delay (an ‘embargo’) in making your paper open access via our repository. Opting out should therefore allow you to publish with your publisher of choice. But please note that if you have a grant from a funder that requires immediate Open Access, such as UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the Wellcome Trust, the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) or the European Research Council (ERC), then your publisher may be putting you in breach of your funder’s requirements.

 

What does my SHU co-author want from me?

Your SHU co-author wants your agreement to include the Rights Retention Statement in your submission. Agreeing confirms that you and your co-authors are licensing your jointly owned copyright in the Author Accepted Manuscript to Sheffield Hallam University to disseminate the Author Accepted Manuscript immediately on publication under the Creative Commons Attribution licence. Sheffield Hallam University will sub-license your copyright in the Author Accepted Manuscript to your home institution so that all home institutions of all co-authors can do the same without breaking copyright law (as per clause 18 from our Research Publications and Copyright Policy). In other words, indirectly you will also be licensing your own home institution!

This works as follows. As co-authors, both you and your Sheffield Hallam co-author jointly own copyright over your Author Accepted Manuscript. Just as you can jointly decide to give away your copyrights to your publisher by signing their publication agreement (tellingly sometimes called a ‘copyright transfer agreement’), you can also jointly decide to give a licence to your home institutions to disseminate the Author Accepted Manuscript of your paper via your respective institutional repositories immediately from the day of first publication under the Creative Commons Attribution licence.

The mechanism that we use means that, if you agree, all co-authors retain more copyrights over their Author Accepted Manuscript, rather than giving these rights to the publisher. 

For example, you will retain the right to disseminate the Author Accepted Manuscript by uploading it to social media sites such as ResearchGate and Academia.edu. You will also retain the right to make the Author Accepted Manuscript available from your institutional repository immediately from the day of first publication under the CC BY licence, rather than after a delay of 6 to 24 months which publishers usually require! Disseminating your paper quickly and widely helps increase citations and extends the reach of your research. 

 

What are my options?

You have three options.

1. You agree

This is our preferred option because it would benefit all co-authors involved. If your Sheffield Hallam co-author has been in touch via email, then simply respond with ‘OK’ or words of a similar nature.

If you do not respond to the SHU author within two weeks, they will assume that they can proceed as planned and that you agree to grant Sheffield Hallam University a licence to share the accepted manuscript without delay under the CC BY licence.

2. You agree, but would like a different licence

If you would like your paper to be shared under a different Creative Commons licence than CC BY, please let the Sheffield Hallam author know. They can opt out of their institution’s policy to accommodate a different Creative Commons licence or to introduce an embargo before the accepted manuscript is shared.

3. You do not agree and want to follow your publisher’s open access policy instead

If you would like to follow your publisher’s open access policy, which in most cases requires an embargo period of between 6 and 24 months and does not allow for the usage of a Creative Commons Attribution licence, then please let the Sheffield Hallam author know. They can opt out of their institution’s policy to accommodate a different Creative Commons licence or to introduce an embargo before the accepted manuscript is shared.

 

Is there anything else I should do?

If you agree to apply the rights retention mechanism, we would advise you to deposit your Author Accepted Manuscript as soon as possible after acceptance in your institution's repository, and to instruct your institution’s repository team that they have been granted a sub-license from Sheffield Hallam University to make that manuscript downloadable from the day of first publication under the Creative Commons Attribution licence. If your repository team have any questions, please refer them to this web page and tell them to contact the Library Research Support team at Sheffield Hallam University (library-research-support@shu.ac.uk). We will be delighted to assist.