Product has been added to the basket

STM Membership

We’re making life easier for authors seeking permission to re-use figures

If you want to include already-published figures or photographs in your article, or reproduce a portion of text or tabular material, it can be confusing when you try and navigate the process of seeking permission. Generally, something that has already been published will be ‘owned’ by someone and under copyright and require permission to reproduce it. In this Top Tips we want to tell you that the Geological Society of London (GSL) is a signatory to the Guidelines of the International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical (STM) Publishers, which will make navigating the confusing world of seeking permissions that much easier for you.

Your responsibilities as author

As author (or corresponding author), you are responsible for obtaining permission to use any copyright material in the article that you are submitting to one of our journals or books. By ‘copyright material’ we mean any material that has been published elsewhere – whether in a printed or electronic format. This applies to direct text extracts, tables or figures. In most cases, the publisher of the work will control copyright in the material and has the exclusive right to grant permission even if they don’t own the copyright.

The STM Guidelines

The Guidelines help facilitate the exchange of scholarly and professional information by enabling one STM signatory publisher to grant permission to another to re-use limited amounts of material from published works in subsequent publications. This is free of charge and often without the need for you to request permission. Many scholarly publishers are signatories to the Guidelines (e.g. CUP, Elsevier, ICE Publishing, John Wiley, OUP and Springer Nature). You can see the full list of signatories here (, in tabular form, and it lets you know which publishers will still expect you to apply for permission, even though you will be granted permission free of charge.

How this will help you

If you want to reproduce figures from an article in a book or journal that is published by another signatory to the Guidelines, you will be able to use free of charge

up to three figures (including tables) from a single journal article or book chapter

There are caveats:

  • you cannot use more than five figures from a whole book or journal issue/edition;
  • you cannot use more than six figures from an annual journal volume;
  • you cannot use in total more than 30 figures from a single publisher for re-publication in a book, including a multi-volume book, with different authors per chapter;
  • if any figure(s) you want to reproduce are credited to another source (third-party material), you must clear this with the stated copyright owner;adaptations or modifications are not permitted without prior permission from the publisher.

Credit line for the caption 

You must acknowledge, as usual, the source of the figure(s) you are reproducing:
  • from a book: author, title, edition, publisher, city, country, copyright © year;
  • from a journal article: author, title of article, title of journal, volume number, issue number (if relevant), page range (or first page if this is the only information available), date, publisher, and DOI number.


Many scientific publishers use licensing bodies to manage their permission-granting services. You may have encountered the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC), which owns and manages the RightsLink permission-granting service (, or the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA), which operates the PLS Clear transactional permission service ( Rightslink recognizes signatories to the STM Guidelines and, when you go through Rightslink to apply for permission, it will give you the option to input that you are publishing your article with an STM signatory.

Steps to take 

  • Use the list of STM signatories to see if you do need to seek permission to reproduce the figure.
  • If you don’t need to seek permission, go ahead and use the 1–3 figures, free of charge and with the credit line in the caption.
  • If the STM signatory does require permission, access Rightslink or whatever permission-granting service the publisher uses via the link (e.g. ‘Request permissions’ or ‘Get rights and content’ or ‘Reprints and Permissions’) on the opening page of the article from which you want to take the figure. All the original article information will populate in the relevant boxes in your permissions request.
  • When you see the option (‘requestor type’), say that we are an STM signatory and then download a free permission licence to include when you submit your article to us.

Best wishes

The Production Team