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PRC Summary Paper 5

Journal Authors' Rights: perception and reality

Sally Morris, Morris Associates


This paper examines what is permitted by publishers' author agreements, and what authors think they are allowed to do.   The policies of 181 publishers, representing 75% of published papers, were examined;  1163 authors responded to a questionnaire about what they wanted to do with their manuscripts, and what they believed publishers allowed them to do.

Authors significantly underestimate what they are allowed to do with both the submitted and the accepted versions of their articles;  they are also unaware of how many publishers allow use of the published PDF version for sharing with colleagues, incorporating in their own work, or use in course packs.  However, they significantly overestimate the extent to which they may self-archive the published PDF version.


  • Introduction
  • What authors want to do
  • What authors think they are allowed to do
  • What publishers' agreements actually allow
  • Comparison with other studies
  • Why the mismatch, and what can be done about it?
  • Acknowledgements
  • References

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