Working with Your Editor: Previously Published Material in Your Manuscript

Book authors sometimes incorporate text from their dissertations or previous publications in their book manuscripts. How to handle reuse, with or without modification, is confusing and touches on copyright and authors rights: authors should always review their contract and may need to request permission to reuse their writing. The essay below is a Guest post by Walter Biggins, editor-in-chief, University of Pennsylvania Press, for H-Net’s excellent Feeding the Elephant: A Forum for Scholarly Communications.

If you’re preparing a draft of your manuscript to submit to a publisher, then the final throes of that will involve ironing out its wrinkles. Your manuscript may wrestle with complex ideas and engage with a wide array of sources. It may even employ perspectives and argumentative modes that aren’t commonly used for your discipline. It may argue with key works of scholarship in your field.

In short: Your manuscript probably has a lot of bunches, folds, and lumps. That’s not bad, so long as the presentation is as smooth as possible, in ways that are clean and clear to you and to your press alike.

One of the most common lumps, and sometimes the most time-consuming and process-disorienting to sort out, involves previously published material. Authors often think about material that comes from outside their own work as the problematic wrinkles—i.e., permissions. Do you have permission to reproduce that Warhol painting in your book? Or that map of Mordor? Or those Notorious B.I.G. lyrics? Or that seven-page extract from The Magic Mountain? Can you use this Bob Dylan verse as an epigraph to chapter 3, because you like it and, golly, that seems like fair use to you?

All that is worth considering, and needs to be resolved before you submit a final manuscript. (Spoiler alert: get rid of the Dylan.) But, in concentrating so acutely on the problems that might be caused by others’ work, you often forget to think of your own. In this manuscript, you should ask yourself, what of my own work has appeared elsewhere, and what should I do about that material?

Usually, your own previously published material could fall into five rough categories: scholarly articles published in peer-reviewed journals; essays published in an edited collection; pieces produced for mainstream media, such as magazines, newspapers, and other periodicals; material produced for non-print formats, such as podcasts and audiobooks; and conference papers.

In all of those cases except for the last one, you probably signed an agreement with the publisher of said periodical, book, or platform that granted the press the right to use your work. So, if a version of that material is going to be used in your book, you need to request permission for this—even if the original piece has been altered significantly for publication in book form.

For scholarly monographs and edited collections, there is typically no fee for this use, though the original periodical may request that your book attributes the source of the material properly. Ask if there is a specific credit line to be used, and a specific placement—on the copyright page, for example—where the credit should appear. Many contributor agreements for journals and inclusion in edited collections will include a clause granting permission of this sort; it’s worth requesting said clause if you don’t see it in the original agreement. Furthermore, many journals will spell out the specific granted rights for contributors on their websites, so check there as well.

It’s a good idea to check with a journal before you sign a contract with it about its terms for re-use of your material, and make sure that this is possible. It’s always worth finding out whether the contract stipulates if your work can be reproduced by the journal—in, let’s say, a best-of anthology of the journal—or if the journal can sell the right to have your material reproduced elsewhere, in other languages, and in other formats.

This can become a critical issue if your manuscript’s research was funded and/or sponsored in part by a university, academic affiliation, or institutional grant. An example: Let’s say your manuscript is a revised, greatly overhauled version of your dissertation. The university deposits the defended dissertation into its institutional repository. In doing so, it is possible that the work has been embargoed, which is to say access to it has been restricted in some way, usually for a limited period of time. The University of Oklahoma’s Libraries has a pretty good rundown on the reasons behind embargoes, and why you might choose this process for early versions of your work.

The main issue is that you need to be aware of what this means, and that embargoing parts of the work may mean that it’s problematic for it to appear in your book. You should make your book editor aware of any previously published material within your manuscript, and of the potential restrictions that this may cause, well before you submit everything.

…there’s a tricky balance between creating eager anticipation for the book and over-exposing it…

This is a practical consideration with legal ramifications. Your editor also needs to know how much, and where, your book’s material has appeared for marketing reasons. Your press certainly wants knowledge of your work, and acclaim for it, to be visible prior to the book’s publication. So, access to material related to the book is often a good thing. But there’s a tricky balance between creating eager anticipation for the book and over-exposing it so that its potential buyers think they already know the book—and thus don’t need to buy it. A good editor will be candid with you about how much of the work can be previously published before the exposure adversely affects its reception. My rule of thumb is no more than 25% of it should be accessible freely elsewhere; other editors will have different opinions. The point is: You should check, and plan accordingly.

That, in fact, is the key. At every step of the process, think carefully about what you’re published from the book, in what venues, and if you’ve got permission to do so. Ironing out this wrinkle will save you a lot of time and potential publication delay, and allow your experience to go as smoothly as it can.

Walter Biggins is Editor in Chief at University of Pennsylvania Press where he acquires cultural studies, intellectual and political history of the Americas, as well as Atlantic World and postcolonial studies. Biggins is also a freelance writer and is a coauthor of Bob Mould’s Workbook (Bloomsbury, 2017). 

Biggins, Walter. “Working with Your Editor: Previously Published Material in Your Manuscript.” Feeding the Elephant: A Forum for Scholarly Communications., 2 Feb. 2024,  published under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License

Fair Use Week 2024: Jumbo Shrimp Special

I love Gothamist, especially their twice-daily roundup of links. Yesterday evening, I was unwinding, reading Gothamist’s evening link roundup, Extra, Extra. It was a long, challenging day that started early with my two-hour copyright workshop series taught by Kyle Courtney, a lawyer and librarian at Harvard University. Kyle is the co-founder of Fair Use Week.

A coincidence or not, Gothamist posted a link related to Fair Use Week. Fair use helps designers get creative but the jersey design below is a triple threat! Read more about this wacky celebration of the public domain for Fair Use Week by Jacksonville’s Triple-A baseball team, the Jumbo Shrimp. Thank you, Gothamist for a chuckle.

Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp Triple-A baseball team jerseys celebrating the public domain for Fair Use Week

It’s Fair Use Week 2024!

Fair Use Week 2024 runs from Feb. 26 to March 1.

Fair use helps balance the rights of a copyright owner with our right to reuse copyrighted materials to create new works. It is an aspect of copyright law that applies not only to creators and authors but also to faculty and students. Fair use touches everyone! Here are two infographics to introduce you to fair use:

“Fair Use Fundamentals” by Association of Research Libraries is licensed under CC BY 4.0

Spring 2024 Scholarly Publishing Workshops

These workshops support your publishing and teach you how to make yourself more visible and how to document the impact of your work.



Get Evidence! Scholarly Metrics for Your PARSE and CV
Thursday March 28, 11:00 AM-12:00 PM

Covers Google Scholar Profile for citations and Google Scholar for journal rankings, Scimago for journal rankings, Altmetric Attention Scores for social media, and download reports from Academic Works (and other repositories). We’ll also touch on finding individual journal acceptance rates as well as Journal Impact Factors. The workshop will briefly address books and book chapters as well as other ways we can demonstrate the value and impact of our work.

Get Organized! Zotero Basics
Thursday April 18, 3:30-4:30 PM
Attendees will learn the capabilities of this powerful, free open-source reference management software program. The session covers the functionalities of the Zotero client, adding the Zotero plugin to your browser, and importing citations to generate a bibliography. To maximize our workshop time, please download Zotero from and create your username and password in the Zotero client software by going to EDIT > PREFERENCES > >SYNC

Author Identifier (ORCID) for Publishing and Grantsmanship
Thursday May 2, 3:00-4:00 PM  
ORCID IDs are author identifiers. They are especially helpful to authors with names that are more common but they have other benefits including speedier registration in systems for submitting articles, reviewing, and grant applications. Grantees who use their ORCID when applying for a grant help to assure that funders connect your funding program to your scholarship. ORCID also helps potential funders to efficiently review your publications.

Open Publishing
Friday May 10, 12:00-1:00 PM
Faculty Commons, registration tba
There are many paths to open! Learn about resources from CUNY and City Tech library that facilitate authoring preprints, open access monographs and journals, open textbooks, OER, and more. Open publishing makes your research and teaching materials freely available which benefits the broader community and increases your visibility as a scholar and educator.

Our Scholarly Publishing Clinic is available on-demand and during our office hour at 4 PM every first Tuesday of the month. We provide one-on-one consultations as well as workshops that fit your schedule. Find more scholarly communications and publishing support from the library on our website. Questions? Contact Prof. Monica Berger


Love Comics and Graphic Novels? We Have Them!

Book cover for Wake : the hidden history of women-led slave revolts. Hall, Rebecca.

City Tech library has a large comics and graphic novels collection, over 400 print books, which you can browse online before coming to the library. Our graphic novels are located under the central staircase on the 4th floor of the library (the floor where users enter). Graphic novels can be borrowed for the same 8 week period like other circulating books.

We also have a large collection available online in Underground & Independent Comics, Comix, and Graphic Novels. Log in with your CUNY ID and password from off-campus.

Is there a book you’d like us to buy? Just email me at Please include as much information as possible but feel free to send a link to Amazon or a publisher’s website if that’s easier for you. Note that we do not buy individual comic books that do not have a spine.

New study further supports open access advantage

A new study in Scientometrics finds that open access articles garner more citations and a broader and larger readership than those behind the paywall. It is not surprising that open access results in a citation advantage; however, this research confirms that another benefit of open access is that it enables scholars’ work to reach larger and more diverse audiences geographically and by institution and discipline. In other words, open access truly fosters bibliodiversity, or, in Spanish, bibliodiversidad, a Latin American ethos that calls for diversity in publication format, language, content, and readership. Bibliodiversity is a grounding concept in addressing epistemic inequality. Scholars based in the Global South and at low-resourced institutions in the Global North face myriad disadvantages that perpetuate their obscurity or limited impact.

I was surprised to learn that, in particular, ‘green open access,’ open access in repositories like CUNY Academic Works, had an even more diverse readership than immediate upon publication ‘gold open access.’ Why? In a summary in Science, the study’s first author, “speculates that might be because a green paper may appear in multiple repositories—institutional and discipline-based—whereas gold papers tend to appear in only one, the publishers’ website. ‘People might be able to find a paper more easily when it’s available in multiple places” and then cite it, Huang says. “That remains something we need to study further.'”

That suggests, that the more the merrier! If you want to be read and cited, share your work in diverse venues including CUNY Academic Works.

Workshop, Dec. 5, Get Organized! Zotero Basics

Zotero logo Get Organized! Zotero Basics
Dec. 5, 4-5 PM
Attendees will learn the capabilities of this powerful, free open-source reference management software program. The session covers the functionalities of the Zotero client, adding the Zotero plugin to your browser, and importing citations to generate a bibliography. To maximize our workshop time, please download Zotero from and create your username and password in the Zotero client software by going to EDIT > PREFERENCES > >SYNC

Open Access and knowledge as a public good

Open Access Week 2023 Open access is not a business model; rather, it is a philosophy and ethos as well as a practice. It expanded and came into full maturity in the mid-aughts after its initial development during the 1990s, followed by several years of innovation in the early-aughts. During this era (the early 2000s), the movement grew significant enough that a turning point had been reached; stakeholders in scholarly communications came together to issue a series of three declarations supporting open access. These three declarations are, in shorthand, called the 3Bs: Budapest (BOAI) (2002), Bethesda (2003), and Berlin (2003).

The concept of knowledge as a public good is referenced in the BOAI:

“An old tradition and a new technology have converged to make possible an unprecedented public good. The old tradition is the willingness of scientists and scholars to publish the fruits of their research in scholarly journals without payment, for the sake of inquiry and knowledge.”

Open access is at its essence a philosophical notion with the guiding principle that scholarly content should be available to all readers without restriction because knowledge itself is a public good and cannot be bought and sold.  The idea of knowledge as a public good derives from the work of Charlotte Hess and Elinor Ostrom’s conception of knowledge-as-commons.

Peter Suber provided an excellent overview of this important economic concept in an essay, originally published in the SPARC Open Access Newsletter (Nov. 2, 2009), reprinted in Knowledge Unbound: Selected Writings on Open Access, 2002–2011. In brief, a public good is “non-rivalrous and non-excludable,” meaning that it is non-competitive and available to anyone and unaffected by consumption. New knowledge only adds to existing knowledge, and anyone can gain knowledge by learning in varied ways. It is important to differentiate knowledge as a public good versus knowledge captured in texts which are not a public good. Suber argued that when knowledge in text form is digital, it is no longer rivalrous or excludable. Unfortunately, the scholarly publishing system has not evolved to embrace this ethos.

Open access journals, according to the BOAI, “will not charge subscription or access fees, and will turn to other methods for covering their expenses.” This proviso related to “other methods” is important to subsequent discussion of the various models for open access publishing and how article processing charges (author fees) fit in. Open access publishing has increasingly taken the form of a business and this year’s theme for Open Access Week is Community over Commercialization.

When open access is positioned as a business model that will solve the problem of overpriced journals, this interpretation of open access has proven troubled. Open access has not resulted in moderating journal pricing, whether for subscriptions or, in our current environment, author fees for immediate open access. The 20th anniversary of the BOIA declares that diamond open access, open access without fees to authors, should be supported instead of commercialized open access. Lastly, let’s not forget that platforms like CUNY Academic Works also allow us to share our work freely.

this blog post is adapted from my forthcoming book (Winter/Spring 2024) from the Association of College and Research Libraries.

We’re running our annual Academic Works Demystified workshop next week, Nov. 1, 4-5 PM. The workshop addresses what is Academic Works and how it benefits you as a scholar. You will learn more about how and why publishers allow you to contribute to Academic Works and the many benefits to sharing your scholarship openly to you, your students, and the public. The workshop will be on Zoom.