UKSCL – who owns scholarship?

When an academic publishes a journal article, who owns the copyright in the text, and what are you permitted to do with it? The answers to these questions can be surprisingly complex, and will vary depending on both an institition’s intellectual property (IP) policy and on the agreement signed with the publisher.

The UKSCL Model Institutional Open Access Policy is an initiative designed to give authors of research, and their employers, more freedom and flexibility with how they make their work available.

At the moment, universities own the intellectual property in most work created by employees, but often waive this ownership when it comes to academic books and journal articles. This is the case at Edinburgh Napier University.

If a university adopts the model open access policy, it would retain the right to make research available under an open Creative Commons license and then legally give the ownership of copyright back to the author(s).

This process would mean that the university could guarantee it meets the open access requirements of the REF policy, and provide open access to all of the university’s research through the institutional repository. Authors would still retain the right to choose where they publish their work.

No university is ready quite yet to implement the UKSCL – but in the near future, many may do so. Any questions about it? Feel free to email the repository team at