When you write an article, book, chapter, or other scholarly work, your publisher may ask you to sign an author's agreement (sometimes also called a "publication agreement," or "copyright transfer agreement"). This document will typically include a statement about who owns the copyright to the work, any other rights granted to you as the author, the rights reserved by the publisher, terms for royalties (if applicable), and preferred citations for the work.
Many author's agreements ask you to sign over your copyright to the publisher, making them the copyright holder. If you agree to sign over your copyright, it is important to make sure you retain certain rights to your work. Things to look for include:
Scholars generally want to see the widest distribution of their work possible to ensure that it can be widely shared and read. Open access provides unrestricted access to research, eliminating many of the restrictions associated with publishers such as copyright, licensing, subscriptions, and fees.
Publishing in an open access journal can help you achieve a larger audience for your work because it will not be hidden behind a restrictive or expensive subscription, help you share your work more widely because you will not infringe with a publisher's copyright, and make it easier to retain many of the rights detailed above.