The worlds of science and scientific publishing are deeply entwined. For many years, the best way for researchers to get their work read and recognized has been to publish in a journal. This is still true today. Scientific careers build on the strength of publications. Journals need researchers, and researchers need journals.
Now, however, the world of scientific publishing is facing a huge change. Open Access is rapidly gaining popularity. Open Access offers free, open online access to scientific output, including journal articles.
One thing that is sometimes forgotten in the debate around publishing options is the issue of copyright. Copyright is ownership. Whoever owns the copyright controls the legal right to print or distribute the material.
The primary purpose of copyright is to protect the rights of the creator. Ideally, copyright should also be used to further scientific research. However, copyright is often used to prevent sharing of work. This can hinder research progress. Rather than protecting the rights of authors, this protects the financial interests of publishers.
Authors can also use Creative Commons licenses to protect their work. Creative Commons offers a few types of free copyright licenses. Authors can use these to help share their work with the public, while still keeping their rights to the material.
Publishers sometimes say that copyright transfer allows them to defend authors against any breaches of copyright. However, they can still do this, even if the author keeps the copyright