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Every scholar wishes to see his or her research published in a journal of note. Journals enhance scholarship by selecting submissions, managing the peer review process and providing improvements through editing. 

However, the landscape of scholarly publishing has changed over the last number of years. Journals, which were originally produced as the work of scholarly societies and scholarly presses, have increasingly become the product of multinational publishers. This has created price inflation for journals, subscriptions for which represent an ever-growing proportion of university library budgets. The record of scholarly research (often produced with the support of universities and government funding agencies) is sold back to universities at a considerable premium. Pay walls hamper access to these works and the opportunity to read and cite them.


Retaining Rights when Publishing

Copyright is often assigned to a publisher as part of a publication agreement. This presents particular issues for the creators of scholarly works, whose main interest is the dissemination of knowledge and the contribution to scholarly discussion. A conventional publishing agreement may restrict your ability to distribute a copy of your own work, including at conferences or even in your own classes without the permission of the publisher and the payment of a royalty.

Creators should read the publisher contract carefully and seek legal advice if necessary.  When negotiating an agreement, it is in the creator's best interest to retain some or all of the following:

  • self-archiving privileges, which allow (among other things) the creator to post the work to an institutional repository, such as RO@M, the MacEwan University institutional repository.
  • copyright (the creator may choose to grant the publisher the right of first publication only)
  • the right to use, copy and distribute a work for educational or research purposes
  • the right to modify, adapt, update, or create derivative works.

Sharing Other's Works

Sharing copyrighted documents by email or on cloud platforms, such as Google Drive or Dropbox, is now commonplace. Do such distributions infringe copyright? Fair dealing will apply to most scenarios as long as the amounts shared and the size of the distribution is limited. Of course, one way to avoid copyright issues is to share links (such as DOIs or web links) where possible rather than providing a copy. 

The copying or communication by MacEwan University faculty and staff of excerpts from copyrighted works and in some cases entire works (following the amounts outlined in paragraph 4 the MacEwan University Fair Dealing Guidelines) for the purposes of research, private study, news reporting, criticism, review, education, parody and satire to each member of a scholarly or research group with a limited number of members who share one or more of these purposes is likely to qualify as fair dealing (see the Fair Dealing section for more information). These purposes are to be given a large and liberal interpretation. Research, for example, does not need to be a formal scholarly enterprise. A copy of an article can be shared simply out of interest in the topic. A "research group" can be any group of people with a shared research interest. Any topic, scholarly or not, can qualify.

Sharing copies of excerpts or a limited number of articles with a small group that consists primarily of students, faculty and staff of MacEwan University or with a limited number of colleagues at other institutions, such as via email or a cloud sharing service, would also likely be fair dealing. 

The larger the group that is part of a distribution, the less fair the sharing will be. Always take reasonable measures to limit the size of the audience for your distribution. 

The Fair Dealing Guideline amounts are very likely to be fair in these contexts. It is possible that amounts that exceed the Guidelines will still qualify for fair dealing. The determination of the fairness of a copying or communication of a work under fair dealing is dependent on an assessment of all the factors in a given situation and the application of the six-factor fairness test provided by the Supreme Court in 2004. Contact the Copyright Specialist for advice or submit a request for a fair dealing assessment. Requests will be reviewed and a determination made based on all relevant information.

Single copies of excerpts from copyrighted works and in some cases entire works for personal research and private study are likely to qualify as fair dealing. Review the Copyright for Personal Use section for more information. Distribution of copies to students in a class or course should always follow the MacEwan University Fair Dealing Guidelines.

Additional Resources

This work is subject to a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial 4.0 International license. For exceptions, see the Library Copyright Statement.