It is essential that before you sign any contract agreement (e.g. Research Agreements, Consultancy Agreements, Editor Agreements, Publishing Agreements, Licence Agreements (both Exclusive and Non-exclusive)) you understand the terms and conditions under which your Intellectual Property (IP) is to be used in future.
Many publishers invite you to sign a Copyright Transfer Agreement granting them the right to publish your work. Take care to note whether they request exclusive rights (which might prohibit you from repurposing your work and publishing in an alternative format in future) and which rights you retain as the author of the work.
If you wish to make your work available Open Access (now mandated by RCUK, EU and some other funders) and the publisher does not plan to do this on your behalf (through the payment of an Article Processing Charge (APC)) then you will need to retain the right to put a version of your work (often your final author version or post-print) in an institutional repository (also referred to as the right to self-archive).
If the contract you are about to sign is unclear on Open Access you can check publisher policies through SHERPA ROMEO.
Be aware of your Moral Rights, which protect your right to be acknowledged as the author of a work. Moral Rights can be waived, but not assigned or licensed. If you choose to waive your Moral Rights, you should seek the inclusion of a clause which controls how your name and Newcastle University’s name is used. The Intellectual Property and Legal Services Team would be able to advise in these instances.
All queries regarding contract agreements, Intellectual Property (including copyright) and legal issues should be directed to Andrea Wright-Watkinson, Head of Intellectual Property, Research and Enterprise Services in the first instance.