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"Scholarly communications" describes the process of scholarly research and publishing. In recent years, technological advances have introduced a new publishing model alongside the traditional peer-reviewed publishing model. As a result, the concept of scholarly communications has expanded to include many activities surrounding content creation and dissemination. In today's environment, scholarly communications is concerned with several complex issues. This guide is intended to discuss key issues in scholarly communications and provide VDOT researchers and employees with information, resources, and advice on how to navigate the shifting landscape of scholarly publishing.
Open access publishing means providing online content free to readers while supporting operations by financial models that permit this free electronic distribution. So far, most advances in Open Access publishing have been made in the area of journal publishing, but there are increasing numbers of ventures into Open Access monograph publishing too. For more information see the guide: Understanding Open Access.
United States copyright laws balance the interests of creators, consumers, and publishers. The goals of copyright law, as articulated by Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, is "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." While those goals sound simple, in modern application they can be notoriously complex for authors and non-lawyers to apply. Furthermore, copyrigth laws vary from country to country. This guide touches on a few elements related to copyright laws, fair use applications, digital publishing and content licensing agreements. This guide is not intended to address copyright in depth.
As soon as you start creating a new original work in any fixed medium (including electronic formats), your work is copyrighted and no further action is necessary for it to be protected by U.S. copyright law. But when you sign a contract to publish that work, you may be asked to transfer your rights. The traditional academic publishing model requires authors to sign away the rights to their work, but this doesn't have to be the case.
Authors can retain some or all of their rights by releasing their research under a Creative Commons license, by publishing it in an open access journal or monograph, or by using an author's addendum to negotiate a traditional scholarly publishing contract. While this guide does not discuss those options, it is important to know you do have options.
Notice: In most cases, works authored by VDOT employees in the course of their VDOT job responsibilities are the intellectual property of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Commonwealth owns the copyright and only the Commonwealth can give permission to others to use the material. In the case of VTRC, such authority resides with the VTRC Director. This “Delegation of Authority Concerning Requests to Use VDOT Intellectual Property to Directors January 2017” spells out this authority.