This article is meant to minimize your time, effort, and uncertainty in determining copyright at criminology journals.1 This is crucial to legally make your articles free to everyone; that is, Open Access (OA). Below, I describe four ways to determine copyright. All have utility, but they differ in benefits and costs.
Before presenting the options, some background may be useful. In my Open (Access) Letter to Criminologists, I explain how and why we can and should make our written works OA. A big part of my proposal is to publicly and freely share papers accepted for publication, known as “postprints.” That strategy is cheaper than paying to make your work OA, and sidesteps the accessibility problem of publishing in paywalled outlets. A downside is it requires knowing more about copyright at (potential) outlets for your work. An outlet’s copyright specifies whether, how, and when you can make a work OA. This information is needed to make OA an important part of deciding where to publish; and, after a work is accepted for publication, to legally maximize its accessibility.
What follows are four ways to determine copyright at criminology journals.2 I list them from fastest to slowest. They also vary in difficulty.3
Sherpa Romeo is “an online resource that aggregates and analyses publisher open access policies from around the world and provides summaries of publisher copyright and open access archiving policies on a journal-by-journal basis.”4 It is fast and easy to use. All you do is enter the journal title and click search.
ShareYourPaper.org (SYP) “works by gathering up information about your paper from the journal, checking copyright details, and seeing if it's already freely available. We then figure out the simplest way you can share it, guide you through it, and double check what you actually upload is okay. Then it gets put in a general repository call Zenodo that preserves your work, and makes it discoverable.”5 Compared to Sherpa Romeo, SYP is less useful for deciding where to publish.6 It is slower and harder to use, barely. It requires some extra clicks, such as finding an article’s DOI. However, a benefit of SYP is it will upload your paper to Zenodo, possibly saving you time and effort.
The “do it yourself” (DIY) option starts by going to a journal’s website. For some journals, the copyright is found on its dedicated website. This is typical of journals that are diamond and gold access. For other outlets, you will need to follow the breadcrumbs from its website to the more general publisher website. (Short tutorial videos are at the end of this article.) Either way, DIY tends to be slower and harder than using Sherpa Romeo and SYP.
Your librarian may be the most underused resource at your disposal. Your librarian should be able to answer your questions about copyright and making your work OA. It is slower and harder to consult your librarian than use Sherpa Romeo or SYP, as you have to pose a question and wait for an answer. It is also slower than DIY, but easier. Like SYP, your librarian can help upload your paper to a repository.
DIY is not hard. The most difficult part is finding the information. It is located in different places, under different terms. The following tutorial videos provide examples of how to navigate the websites of some big publishers: Elsevier; Oxford University Press; Sage; Springer; Taylor & Francis; and, Wiley. For each publisher, I start at the homepage of one of its hybrid journals. The videos are not intended as step-by-step guides, as the steps will likely change with time.