Want a better h-index? - All you need to know about copyright and open access

Orthop Traumatol Surg Res. 2020 Dec;106(8):1475-1480. doi: 10.1016/j.otsr.2020.05.015. Epub 2020 Oct 24.


Introduction: Physicians, whether in the public or private sector, are increasingly bound to "publish or perish". Although researchers have become aware of certain ethical concerns relating to the concept of authorship, clinicians still tend to neglect issues of copyright. The present study aims: 1) to explain to orthopedic surgeons what exactly is protected by copyright in a scientific article; 2) to assess the legal implications of publishing contracts; and 3) to specify the means of publication that best boost the author's h-index.

Material and methods: The study was based on intellectual property legislation and jurisprudence and the underlying principles. The European and American medical and legal literature was analyzed.

Results: It is vital to understand the basic principles of copyright and the legal implications of publishing contracts. A scientific article is protected by copyright as soon as it has been written. This confers both moral and property rights. "Moral" rights protect the person of the author and are inalienable; unlike property rights, they cannot be transferred. Publishing contracts can only concern property and other derivative rights. Most scientific articles are published in open access via Creative Commons (CC) licenses. The greater the freedom of use provided for in the CC license, the more easily other authors can use the article, adding to it or altering it. As all CC licenses include an attribution clause, authors publishing under a relatively unrestrictive CC license increase the chances of boosting their h-index.

Conclusion: Forewarned is forearmed. Mastering the means of publication enables authors to make the most of their publications in boosting their h-index, and also to contribute to the new Open Science paradigm: abandoning some intellectual property in favor of innovation and knowledge sharing rather than clinging to data protection.

Level of evidence: IV.

Keywords: Authorship; Citation; Copyright protection; Creative commons; H-index; Open Access; Plagiarism; Publication; Research; Science; Scientific work.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Access to Information*
  • Copyright*
  • Humans
  • United States