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GR ST 536: Preparing Publishable Thesis Chapters

Support for graduate students looking for a journal to publish their work.

Author Rights

For years, the traditional publishing model has required that potential authors sign over the copyright of their article to their publisher as a "normal" part of the publication process. This can severely limit your rights over your own work, such as whether you can share a copy of it in an online Digital Repository (self-archive) or reuse figures you created in future works. 

As an author, consider your rights when you're looking for suitable journals for your article. Important questions to ask:

  • Who will retain the copyright of your article - you or the journal publisher? Do you have a choice?
  • What are you allowed to do with your article once it's published?
  • If you post it in an institutional repository or on a site like arXiv, will you be infringing the copyright of your own work?

Do you have a choice?  Yes, you certainly do!

You can negotiate over retaining copyright before you sign your publishing contract. You can search for a different journal - perhaps an Open Access journal - that better meets your needs. Finally, you can also look up prospective journals to learn more about their archiving policy for sharing a copy of your publication in an online repository. Here's how to find this information:

Sherpa Romeo

Sherpa Romeo is a unique database that helps you know what rights specific journals will allow you as the author to retain!

sherpa romeo publisher policy description, with explanations of rights to archive different versions of record.

Just search your journal by name or ISSN in Sherpa Romeo.  You'll quickly see if you can retain copyright, and which version(s) of your work (pre-print, post-print, publisher's version) you can post ("self-archive") and where, plus any special conditions you'll need to follow.

You can use the information you find to guide your decision on which journals to choose for your publications.

The Digital Repository and your copyright

When you finish your work, a copy will be kept at The Iowa State University Digital Repository (ISU DR). The DR is open access and free for anyone in the world to see, allowing your work to reach a wider audience.

  1. Does contributing material to the Iowa State University Digital Repository affect the copyright of my work? No. We will never ask you to transfer your copyright to us to deposit your work in the DR. 
  2. Questions about the DR? Please contact the Digital Repository at
  3. Want to share more research in the DR? We want the world to be able to access, read, and cite your research! For more information about how the DR works, see the information below.

Proquest and your copyright

In addition to depositing your work in the ISU Digital Repository, a copy of your thesis will also be added to ProQuest's Dissertations and Theses database. Unlike, the DR, ProQuest's database is paid for by subscription and will be accessible only to those with log in information. If you have questions about copyright related to ProQuest, please see the PDF, Copyright and Your Dissertation or Thesis below. Still have questions? Contact the Graduate College at

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Abbey Elder
150 Parks Library
Iowa State University