Due to the complexity of Open Access, you have many options for making your research Open. You should review each Open Access option every time you publish an article. This will ensure that you select the option that best fits your situation.
If you know prior to publication that you would your research to be Open, you will need to find an Open Access publisher. In some situations, it may not be possible to publish your work with an OA publisher, in which case you will want to investigate your options for self-archiving.
When deciding how and where to make your research open, authors have many options. However, before you can choose where to share your research, it is important to consider whether you would like to make it Open Access through an OA publisher, or by depositing your work in an OA repository. These choices are known as Gold and Green OA, respectively:
The Gold Route (Open Access Publishing)
In this path, research is made open by the publisher at the time of publishing. Often, gold OA journals are sustained by charging open access publication fees (instead of subscription fees), but some are funded by other sources like museums and universities. Prior to selecting an Gold OA journal, you will want to investigate the journal's OA publication fees. Examples of OA journals include PLoS ONE and Agronomy.
The Green Route (Self-Archiving)
Green Open Access is better known as "self-archiving." Green OA gives authors the ability to share their research articles, conference posters, and other works on online platforms. A wide variety of options are available, including disciplinary repositories (e.g. arXiv and PubMed Central) and institutional repositories (Digital Repository @ ISU). Previously published research can be self-archived, as can pre-prints and manuscripts for unpublished research and white papers.
Whether you are interested in achieving Open Access or not, it is incredibly important to retain your intellectual property rights. Most journals require authors to sign a publishing agreement. These agreements need to be read carefully, as they could determine the rights that you have over your work after your article is published in a specific journal. Many journals have author agreements that give all rights, including copyright, to the journal.
Authors can always ask a journal to alter their publishing agreement to allow for more freedom for Open Access, particularly Green OA.