Copyright for Research

If you are planning to share your research and scholarly activity with others, MacEwan Copyright Services can help you determine copyright allowances and author rights.

Note that in accordance with the University’s Copyright Policy, members of the MacEwan community are encouraged to make works open access to extend its reach and use.

Sharing Your Work – Frequently Asked Questions

Can I share my article online (e.g., in a repository or on a personal website)?

It depends. If you publish in an open access journal, these works can be shared with anyone, anywhere following publication, including on personal websites and in research repositories like Research Online at MacEwan (RO@M). Visit the library’s page on Open Access to learn more.

If you publish in a subscription-based journal, you can typically only share the draft version of your work online after peer-review and revisions but before any copy editing or typesetting by the publisher (aka a post-print). Post-prints are often subject to a publisher embargo period of 12-36 months following publication before they can be shared online.

In either case, authors typically maintain copyright to the draft version of their works before peer-review (aka a pre-print) and may share these copies freely any time before or after publication.

Visit Sherpa Romeo or individual journal publisher websites to look up open access sharing permissions. Email for further assistance.

How does posting articles on sites like ResearchGate and work?

Creating an account on academic social networking sites can be a great way to engage with peers and extend the research of published works. Note, however, that sites like ResearchGate and do not verify copyright permissions when works are uploaded to their sites and posting the final, official version of works from subscription-based journals are subject to being taken down at any time.

Visit Sherpa Romeo or individual journal publisher websites to look up open access sharing permissions to determine what version of works can be posted to these sites. Email for further assistance.

Can I share my published articles with students and colleagues?

In most cases, yes, sharing copies of articles with individual colleagues and students is allowed.

If you publish in an open access journal, these works can be shared with anyone, anywhere following publication.

To share copies of articles published in subscription-based articles with an entire class, provide a link to a copy in the library’s collection, or post the work using the library’s Course Resource Lists service.

Sharing subscription-based articles with colleagues through private communication (i.e., email) is also allowed. To share with a broader audience, see question above about sharing works online.

How do I maintain copyright to my articles when submitting it for publication?

The best way to maintain copyright to published articles is to publish in an open access journal. Visit the library’s page on Open Access to explore options. When selecting a publisher, review the copyright terms to ensure rights remain with the author. Often this is done through applying a Creative Commons license to the work.

Another option is to try sending an author addendum to a publisher requesting retention of rights prior to agreeing to a publication agreement.

Email for further assistance.

Can I reuse parts of my previously published work in new publications?

It depends. Often this is allowed if the original publication is acknowledged. It also very common for publishers to allow for publication of works previously shared online as a conference paper, pre-print, or thesis. That said, if you anticipate reusing parts of a published (or previously shared) work in future works, read through publication agreements and verify any outstanding questions with the editor before to agreeing to the publisher’s terms.

Note that citing portions of your previously published works or presenting research from these works at a conference do not pose any copyright issues.

Using Other People’s Work – Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Include images I did not take myself in my research?

In most cases, including an image in a publication for the purpose of research is allowed. Be sure to attribute the source, the creator/copyright holder of the photo and any licensing terms. This information is usually included in a caption under the content. See below for more information on including attribution statements.

Exceptions apply if the image explicitly states that permission or a fee is required for reuse.

Note that the library’s Copyright-Friendly Sources guide provides a list of recommended image databases that can be shared freely under a Creative Commons license or in the public domain.

Can I reproduce a chart or graph from a published work?

Copyright does not apply to factual information or data. In most cases, including a chart or graph in a publication for the purpose of research is allowed. Be sure to cite the source of the information following common bibliographic citation practices.

Charts or graphs that include substantial creative design elements may be reused for research purposes provided an attribution statement is included (see below), and the work does not explicitly state that permission or a fee are required for reuse.

How do I include attribution statements alongside works I did not create myself?

Attribution is about crediting a copyright holder according to the terms of a copyright license.

Attributions are typically included in a caption under the content, but this can depend on formatting requirements of the work being produced.

For each attribution statement, include:

  • The title of the work
  • Author(s)/creator(s)/copyright holder(s)
  • License type, if using a work under a Creative Commons license

For examples of attribution statements, visit the MacEwan Open Textbook Authoring Guide’s section on Citing and Attributing Copyright.

How does copyright apply to Indigenous knowledge?

In Western academic traditions, copyright is used to protect the rights of authors/creators and publishers. Such copyright laws are problematic for Indigenous cultures. Within many Indigenous knowledge systems, oral permission is required before accessing cultural materials or practices such as legends, stories, songs, designs, crests, photographs, audiovisual materials, and dances. These practices and materials are owned and transferred by specific individuals, families, or groups within their respective Nations. Permission to use them is contextual to the researcher’s relationship with the owners, the intent of the research, and how the practices or materials will be shared. Permission may be specific to a single use; if you are adjusting your research for a different context, then permission will need to be secured again.

Each First Nations, Métis, and Inuit community will have principles, practices, systems, and processes that flow from their community’s respective laws and traditions. This does not mean that Indigenous knowledge systems and art cannot be used, but researchers need to seek permission and properly cite and situate the knowledge used in their research. Learning about these protocols from the community you are working with will contribute to the content and context of the research partnership agreement.

Researchers should review and understand domestic and international laws and declarations to ensure the copyright and intellectual property rights of Indigenous artists and knowledge keepers are protected, as well as any collective community rights defined by the Indigenous community.

Attribution: Content adapted from Pulling Together: A Guide for Researchers, Hiłḵ̓ala by Dianne Biin, Deborah Canada, John Chenoweth, and Lou-ann Neel. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.


Additional Resources: 

  • CARL Guide to Authors Rights
    Summarizes what you should know about your rights as an author in order to make your work available for sharing and reuse by you and others.
  • Creative Commons
    Licensing tools for authors that lets them choose a specific license that identifies how they would like to share their work. Authors can retain full copyright, retain some rights or relinquish copyright completely.
  • MacEwan Library’s Open Access page
    Provides information on open access publishing and archiving options.
  • SHERPA/RoMEO  Provides academic journal copyright policies, including a summary of what rights authors retain.