As part of getting your work published, publishers will require you to sign or click through an agreement that gives them the right to publish your work. Once you've signed the agreement it is the authoritative source on what you can do with your own work. Publisher agreements differ, with some being more restrictive than others.

What do you need to know?

  • It is important to read your agreement so that you know how you are able to use your work after you publish.
  • Make sure that the agreement allows you to make your work openly available if required by your funder (such as under the Tri-Agency Open Access Policy).
  • Think about how you want to be able to use your work after you publish and ensure the agreement allows those actions. For example, does the agreement allow you to:
    • share the work with students or colleagues,
    • to place the work in a subject repository (such as arXiv or SSRN) or an institutional repository (such as UWSpace), or
    • to re-use your work in a edited collection?
  • Remember that your agreement may be negotiable - the only way to know is to ask your publisher.

SHERPA/RoMEO is a database of publisher copyright policies that can help you understand what you are allowed to do with your work based on the publisher's standard agreement. The database also has links directly to the publisher websites that contain their copyright information for authors.

If you want to retain your rights, one approach to try is to use the SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) Author Addendum. The addendum is a legal document that serves to amend the publisher agreement to allow you to retain rights to non-commercial use of your work, such as use in teaching, research, or deposit in an open access repository. Requesting to use the addendum with your publisher can be a great way to start the negotiation process. The Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) provides a Canadian version of the addendum for download.

Need help?

Please reach out to We can offer guidance on retaining your rights and help gaining a better understanding of publisher policies. 

You may also find the CARL Guide to Author Rights helpful.