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Writer’s Rights

March 30, 2012

I’m currently taking a class called You Have Rights. Our latest project was to develop a reading list of scholarly articles that focused on a specific rights issue that we had not and would not discuss in class. For this project, I chose to focus on the rights of the author, publisher, and editor. These are all fields that I am very interested, so getting a project that allowed me–forced me–to sink my teeth into the dense legal material was actually pretty refreshing. 

I learned a lot of interesting things. For instance, some academic journals don’t allow contributing articles to title their own work. Instead, the editors of the journal will decide a title. I was genuinely surprised to learn this. I know that in a newspaper it is unlikely that a reporter will ever write the headline, for most papers.

This isn’t a newspaper, though. This isn’t a story that comes in one day and is forgotten when “the next big thing” happens. No, this is a scholarly article that obviously means a whole lot to the author. They are likely to devout an extended period of time to this piece of work because it’s important to them. Then for the editor to take away naming rights from the author?

I know sometimes authors of scholarly articles will actually ask for someone else to name their piece. Sometimes the editor knows what’s better. But not every time. There have been several cases where the title of the article, as written by the editor, was misleading and did not accurately represent the article or the author. As someone who has done research and devoted months to a scholarly project, I cannot imagine what it must feel like to be smacked in the face with someone renaming my work. 

But that’s just me. If anyone wants, I can upload the annotated reading list that I developed for my class. All of the articles I found were on my college’s library database. 



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