Publication, reuse and research data

Information and guidance about copyright, publishing and research data.



As a researcher you will frequently make use of third-party copyright material. You will also produce intellectual creations of your own. This section deals with these issues.

We also look at the growing area of research data, that necessitates an understanding of licensing and reuse. Finally, we will go through sharing copyright materials with other research colleagues.

Copyright and research publications

The Research Publications and Copyright Policy allows University of Sheffield staff and PGRs to control copyright in their journal articles and conference proceedings papers, and helps you to comply with external funding requirements. Guidance on how to comply with the policy is available here, and further information on complying with funder open access policies can be seen here.

Use of third-party copyright material

Third-party copyright material refers to content used in your work where the copyright belongs to anyone other than yourself. 

Some use of third-party material is permitted under copyright exceptions, but otherwise, you must obtain permission to reproduce this type of material. 

If you are unsure about whether your use falls under a copyright exception, contact us for guidance. It is especially important to consider your use of third-party material when publishing open access.  

Some third-party works, such as images of artwork, carry high reproduction fees when the material is being made freely available online so it may be necessary to pay for worldwide digital rights to reproduce this type of material in your work.

It is always worth trying to find third-party material such as images that are openly licensed and do not require permission to use.

Research data management

Data may be protected by copyright if the content is original, although facts are not copyrightable. A database itself may be protected by virtue of the work and investment that went into obtaining, verifying or presenting the data.

This is known as sui generis database right, which is distinct from copyright, and may protect against extraction or reuse of a substantial part of the database contents (see The Copyright and Rights in Databases Regulations 1997).

The intellectual property(IP) and copyright in the data that you create as part of your work at the University of Sheffield are owned by the institution. 

This is to protect it so it can be used for the benefit of the institution and to make sure any commercial use of the IP is handled properly.

This should not prevent you from using or sharing data, but you will need to think about who is responsible for it; this should be made clear in your data management plan.  

If you are using other researchers' data you will need to consider if the licence under which the data is available allows you to do what you want.  You can always contact the rights owner for additional permission.  This may also have implications for sharing derivatives or analyses that you have made.

Care needs to be taken when accessing or distributing data across borders, as laws are not the same, even across Europe.

If you are using third-party sources for text and data mining (TDM) then our dedicated TDM page gives more guidance.

Sharing copyright materials

Research groups within the University 

Here we would like to offer some advice on the best ways to share material with colleagues in your Research groups.

For print and electronic resources provided by the University, where possible, share a link to the publication. 

This does not infringe copyright and your colleagues will be able to access the material through their own accounts.

Where the material is covered by our copyright licence you are allowed to copy one chapter/article or 10% of a publication (whichever is the greater) to share with University members of your research groups.

If material is not available through University subscriptions, open access repositories or our library catalogue you may be able to obtain copies through InterLibrary requests

However, please remember that these are supplied for private study and should not be shared.

Research groups with members from several different institutions

Cross-institution research groups are becoming increasingly common and sharing papers within these groups can be problematic.

However, it can be done.  Where possible share a link to the publication.  This does not infringe copyright and your colleagues will be able to access provided they have the appropriate subscription at their institution. 

If subscriptions are not available there is always an option for an individual to request a copy through their Interlending service.

For all types of research groups

Use open access versions of works. These will be either the published versions offered via the journal website or the author's accepted manuscript which has been through peer review and had the final edits made prior to publishing. 

Use Unpaywall and the Open access button to gain access, through repositories, to versions of scholarly publications which are legally free to use.

Open access articles are usually made available under Creative Commons licences.  There may be restrictions on commercial and derivative use and sharing, so pay attention to any particular licensing requirements.

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