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I need your advise; Research Paper & Copyrights

  1. Mar 4, 2007 #1
    Hey everyone,

    My question may show my modest experience regarding research papers legal procedures but i hope i will be excused.

    I have a reaseach paper i want to submit which i think it may be, or may be not, be of a significant importance. I have not finished it yet and thinking to discuess it with some professors here at my university. I am planning to submit it to a magazine for publications as well.

    Which procedures should i do to ensure that my paper is cited legally as my work and wont be 'stolen' and can back it up in case any disputes rise [to be protected by law before sumbitting it to a magazine or to a professor for examination]?

    I will be really looking forward for you advise, any websites or centers or any useful information regarding the matter will be really appreciated.

    [To be honest; being an undergrad student been in the U.S in three years and dont know much about laws here I want to make sure i wont be tricked and some one end up cite all the work by his name. In addition, i havent develop enough personal relationship with the Professor i am thinking to discuess the work with, thus i am careful about critical matters]
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 10, 2007 #2
    If you don't want people to steal your ideas, keep them to yourself.
  4. Mar 10, 2007 #3


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    Where do you want to get this published? When people say they are publishing their work, they normally mean in a scientific journal; but you say you are also looking to publish it in a magazine.. this doesn't seem to make much sense to me.

    Anyway, if you're not sure whether it's important then go and talk to a professor about it. If you go to someone you know, then I'm sure they won't "steal" you're work!
  5. Mar 10, 2007 #4
    Why not submit the manuscript to arXiv (http://arxiv.org/) first, then discuss it with professors?
  6. Mar 10, 2007 #5
    just to add to las3rjock's suggestion, Ar(chi)ve is a very open discussion ground - used for people to pitch new ideas and see what others in the community think of them (you'll find perhaps that if you search hard enough, theres papers on just about everything you could think of there, good and bad)
  7. Mar 10, 2007 #6


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    Note that you need to have an endorser to submit to ArXiv for the first time. Plus, they do weed out crackpots now, so not just anyone off the street can submit stuff there.

  8. Mar 10, 2007 #7


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    That can take YEARS!
  9. Mar 10, 2007 #8


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    If you want to establish unambiguously that you had an idea before a certain date, write it up, put it in a sealed envelope, and mail it to yourself or to a friend via registered mail. Do not open the envelope until it becomes necessary to prove that you had the idea first.

    The postmarks provide a government-issued timestamp. Registered mail is postmarked not only on the front, but also on the back, over the envelope flap, so it's difficult to open the envelope and reseal it without disturbing the postmarks. The Postal Service keeps a record of the mail, and gives you a receipt for it.
  10. Mar 11, 2007 #9


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    In any case, if you publish it in a journal, the journal will copywrite it, not you.
  11. Mar 11, 2007 #10


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    That is a urban myth (certainly in the UK, law in other countries may be different of course).

    In principle anybody can forge a postmark stamp, it is only ink marks on paper, so it proves nothing by itself. You would have to prove it was genuine, and the machine that produced it was set to the correct date, etc.

    Similarly anybody can forge a postal service receipt. You would need to get the P.S. employee who issued it to testify that it was genuine. The chance of you doing that is round about zero. Also, you have to prove the receipt was for the actual package you claim it was for, which is impossible to do, since you could have forged another package, "identical" to the first one, at a later date.

    If you really want to do the "seal it in an envelope" plan, get a lawyer to draw up a properly witnessed legal document, and get the lawyer to keep the sealed envelope as well. Of course doing that will cost you money.
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2007
  12. Mar 11, 2007 #11
    Every work in the US is copyrighted upon creation. No need to toy around with sending it to yourself. If you merely want the credit and recognition, then post it to arXiv as others have noted.

    If this still doesn't satisfy you, save yourself the $.39 for a stamp and register your copyright. This can be done for under $100 and the work doesn't even need to be published. You gain many legal niceties by registering the copyright that you don't have with the envelope method (#1 being public record of your claim). It's easier than you think.


    If it's an invention that needs to be patented, then you're talking more money. Research and legal fees run upwards of $10,000 as the whole process is much more difficult. In this case it's best to consult a lawyer.
  13. Mar 11, 2007 #12
  14. Mar 12, 2007 #13


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    I think things have gotten either too out of hand, or gotten way too complicated here.

    Please note that if you have copyrighted something yourself, there might be journals that will no longer accept your manuscript for publication. As stated, depending on where you have such a thing copyrighted, and depending on the journals, it may not want or accept a copyright transfer of something that has already been copyrighted. Remember that when you send something for publication, you are giving the journal the right to your manuscript.

    Furthermore, journals such as Nature and Science have stricter guidelines on what they will accept, especially in terms of the embargo that they impose of a manuscript that is submitted to them. If you have copyrighted something, then I am guessing that these journals may consider that the manuscript is "published" and may no longer accept such a thing.

    In any case, we all might just be fighting/discussing over nothing. The OP hasn't gotten back, or responded to any of what has been said. If he cannot get an endorser to submit to ArXiv, I'd say he has a bigger problem to deal with in terms of the content, rather than worrying about his idea being "stolen".

  15. Mar 14, 2007 #14


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    I never understand the copyright issue and even for the journals it's quite blurry...

    eg. When I submit a paper, I always put a preprint up on my website. The referee comments come and I sometimes update my preprint. I don't think this is allowed, however, some people even stick up pdfs of the journal paper -- ie. saved from the journal website.

    And when your article goes to press, you have to sign copyright over to the journal by way of a copyright form, even though, technically, the people who pay me own my work :confused:

    Then, when you write a book, you have to go to all the journals to ask if you can include figures from your own papers in the book :confused:

    It's bizarre, but somehow works :smile:
  16. Oct 17, 2010 #15

    I don't want to open a new thread about copyrights.

    I had published some papers at Sprin. Journals. My question is, if i can upload now the manuscripts at arxiv.
    I know that i can't upload the published .pdf. But can i upload the manuscripts at arxiv? Or the revised manuscripts?
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2010
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