August 2007
The Coming Revolution in Scholarly Communications & Cyberinfrastructure
Brian Fitzgerald, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
Kylie Pappalardo, Queensland University of Technology, Australia

Example Two – Nature Precedings

Nature Precedings is an online database designed to allow scientific researchers to share pre-publication research, unpublished manuscripts, presentations, white papers, technical papers, supplementary findings and other scientific documents.9 Contributions are taken from biology, medicine (except clinical trials), chemistry and earth sciences. The database is free of charge to access and use, and is intended to provide a rapid means of disseminating emerging results and new theories, soliciting opinions and recording the provenance of ideas.

Nature Precedings aims to make scientific documents citable, globally available and stably archived. To this end, it can also be used as an archiving tool for scientists to store their work for their own future convenience.

Submissions made to Nature Precedings are screened by a professional curation team for relevance and quality, but are not subject to peer review. The database is designed to complement scientific journals by providing a more rapid and informal communication system, but submissions to Nature Precedings are not subject to the same rigorous and time-consuming reviews as submissions made to scientific journals.

The Nature Precedings website states that scientists should own copyright in a document and have permission from other copyright holders (e.g., co-authors), before they submit the document to Nature Precedings.10 Copyright then remains with the author. However, the website encourages scientists to release their work under a Creative Commons Attribution Licence so that content can be quoted, copied and disseminated, provided that the original source is correctly cited.10

Authors who own copyright in their publication will be able to place a Creative Commons licence on their work, but if they have assigned copyright to their publisher or another party, they will need to ask permission from that party before they can attach a Creative Commons licence. A problem that often arises in this situation is that authors are unsure of whether they own copyright or their publisher owns copyright. Even when authors know that they have transferred copyright to their publisher, they may be reluctant to ask their publisher if they can attach a Creative Commons licence to their work for fear of jeopardising their relationship with the publisher.11

These issues are best dealt with through established policies. Every research and academic institution should have in place policies relating to copyright management, including the licensing of copyright works. These policies should deal with the legal impediments to making copyright material openly accessible, including determining who owns copyright, how to obtain necessary permissions from copyright owners and how to licence material in a way that grants the appropriate rights but retains the appropriate controls. The policies may also deal with non-legal issues, including how to get authors interested in open access repositories and how to assist authors in maintaining a positive relationship with their publisher while asserting additional rights.11

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Reference this article
"The Law as Cyberinfrastructure," CTWatch Quarterly, Volume 3, Number 3, August 2007. http://www.ctwatch.org/quarterly/articles/2007/08/the-law-as-cyberinfrastructure/

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