Saturday, August 04, 2012

Publishing in Medical History: The author's view

If I am an author coming to Medical History today, with a view to submitting my article for publication, what can I expect?

Copyright and free, online access

The journal's website has the statement reproduced in the Appendix below (after "Read more>>").  The website used to have CUP's normal "Transfer of Copyright" and OA conditions too, but these appear to have been removed recently (see image right).
Here are the questions I might ask:
  1. Will I retain copyright of my article? 
    Normally, yes.  But I may want to give it away.
    • Why would I want to give it away? 
      Because I would like my article to appear on the CUP website AND I would like to pay nothing, AND I would like a "one year subscription embargo period." (I don't know what that means.)
  2. Will I have to pay anything?
    Only if you want to.

  3. Will my article be free for the public to read?
    Yes, always.  All articles will be
    published online immediately, with Open Access, on the PMC website.
  4. Will my article be published online, Open Access, online, immediately on the CUP website? 
    Only if I pay $675.  And in this case, I probably have to give up my copyright.
    • Why would I do that?Because then my article will enjoy the added benefits of being on the CUP website.

Creative Commons licenses

The statement in the Appendix below raises the issue of CC licenses when discussing "Green OA."  What is a CC license?  It's all explained in baby language at http://creativecommons.org/.
  
When you write something original, you automatically own the copyright of it.  And as such, nobody is allowed to copy your article without your permission.  
But what if you want people to copy your work, say from your website, while still respecting your authorship?  You want to give away some of your rights, but not all of them.

That's where the CC licenses come in.  They say, in effect, "I own the copyright, buster, so watch out.  But in advance, I give you certain rights, and here they are. ..."

bottom of page one.
As long as you still own the copyright, you are free to add one of these CC licenses to your article, stipulating exactly what others may or may not do with your article.  Here (right) is one I prepared earlier.  In this case, I've chosen the license that says that people using my article have to state that I wrote it (attribution), they can't sell it (non-commercial), and they can tweak or remix or build upon my article, as long as they release the new work under an identical license (share-alike).
What CUP says in the OA Options document below is that if you go for the Gold OA option, and pay CUP $675, your article will be published free, online immediately, with a Creative Commons license.  What isn't made explicit is that CUP wants you to transfer your copyright to them, and the CC license will be issued by them, not you.
Let me repeat that for the hard-of-hearing: if you pay CUP, they will relieve you of your copyright.
They will then release your work with a CC license of their choosing.
I am basing the above on the copyright forms that are normally issued by CUP for authors who choose Green OA, for example the form for Modern Asian Studies.  There seem to be different "Transfer of Copyright" forms for each journal that CUP publishes.  Sometimes the copyrights are transferred to the society or college behind the journal (SOAS, RAS), at other times the rights are transferred to CUP (as with the transfer forms that were on the MH website, but have now been removed).  As far as I have seen, copyright is in every case taken away from the author.


Appendix

MH OA Options, 4 August 2012



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