SPARC defines Open Access as "the free, immediate, online availability of research articles coupled with rights to use the articles fully in the digital environment."
When you're ready to publish in an Open Access Journal, be sure to review:
The author is the copyright holder.
As the author of a work, you are the copyright holder unless and until you transfer the copyright to someone else in a signed agreement.
Assigning your rights matters.
Normally, the copyright holder possesses the exclusive rights of reproduction, distribution, public performance, public display, and modification of the original work. An author who has transferred copyright without retaining these rights must ask permission unless the use is one of the statutory exemptions in copyright law.
The copyright holder controls the work.
Decisions concerning use of the work, such as distribution, access, pricing, updates, and any use restrictions belong to the copyright holder. Authors who have transferred their copyright without retaining any rights may not be able to place the work on course Web sites, copy it for students or colleagues, deposit the work in a public online archive, or reuse portions in a subsequent work. That’s why it is important to retain the rights you need.
Transferring copyright doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
The law allows you to transfer copyright while holding back rights for yourself and others.
The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resource Coalition (SPARC) offers excellent information on securing the rights for works that your have authored.
Today many authors are signing amended publisher agreements that permit them to retain certain rights, such as the SPARC Author Addendum. Also, these same authors can selectively pre-grant permission for others to use or distribute their works according to pre-set conditions through such means as a Creative Commons license. This idea of selectively retaining rights has become a central point in reshaping the concept of Scholarly Communication.
MIT Libraries offers some information on common misconceptions concerning the author's rights, such as misconceptions about sharing your work on your web page or using your work in classroom settings. It is becoming increasingly important that authors are aware of their rights, especially when they have signed a contract with a publisher.
In addition to impact and cost-effectiveness, other factors to consider when choosing a publisher include the publisher's copyright and archiving policies. Journals are assigned a color (green, gold, or hybrid), based on the level of rights your retain.
Open Access Colors