When you write an article, book, chapter, or other scholarly work, your publisher will ask you to sign an author's agreement. This document is sometimes also called a "publication agreement," or "copyright transfer agreement." This document will typically include a statement about who owns the copyright to the written work in question, any other (exclusive or non-exclusive) rights granted to you as the author and those reserved by your publisher, as well as terms for royalties (if applicable), and preferred methods of citation for the work.
Many author's agreements ask you to sign over your copyright to the publisher, making them the copyright holder for the written work in question. If you are agreeing to sign over your copyright, it is important to make sure you retain certain rights to your work. Things to look for include:
If you have questions about what your author's agreement means, contact the Copyright Office. If your author's agreement does not allow you to retain the rights listed above, you can use the UM Author's Addendum to modify your author's agreement.
As a scholar, it's likely you want to see the widest possible distribution for your work in order to ensure that it can be read and shared with colleagues, the general public, or other interested parties. Open Access is a movement to provide unrestricted access to research, without many of the traditional restrictions related to copyright, licensing, subscriptions, and fees associated with many commercial and academic publishers.
Choosing to publish 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 need to worry about infringing on a publisher's copyright, and make it easier to retain many of the rights detailed above.
For more information about Open Access, see this guide to the topic written by librarians at U-M. You can also read Open Access by Peter Suber, an acknowledged expert and director of the Harvard Open Access Project.
If you are a U-M author, you will receive a discount through the publishers below. Be sure to view each publisher's list of publications to: 1) identify a journal in which you may want to publish; or 2) determine if your journal of interest is published by them.