Regardless of how you choose to publish your research article, keep in mind that you should retain the rights to your own text. An author always has the copyright to his or her text, i.e. on the one hand the moral rights, and on the other hand the economic rights. The moral rights are not negotiable, but the economic rights can be sold or transferred to for example a publisher or a scientific journal.
Traditionally, publishers have demanded the exclusive right to publish an article, i.e. the author loses the right to use his or her own text. Today, most publishers will allow you as a researcher to use your article in your teaching, or to put a copy of the article on your own, or your department’s, web page, or in the university's institutional repository. In some cases, however, there will be restrictions, and it is therefore very important to check the conditions set by a publisher, before self archiving an article.
The publishers often distinguish between different versions of an article, pre-print, post-print etc. In some cases you are allowed to archive the author’s version of your article, but not the publisher’s version. Sometimes publishers will allow self-archiving, but only after a specified period, a so called embargo. The embargo period may vary between six and 18 months.
The agreements can be very complicated and vary from publisher to publisher, and even from journal to journal, published by the same publisher. It is therefore very important that you as a researcher read through the conditions stipulated by the publishers very carefully before selecting a publisher.
The University of Nottingham has compiled a list of the rules of all publishers, the so called Sherpa/Romeo-list. Since publishers sometimes change their conditions you cannot rely completely on the list; it is important to contact the publisher to ascertain what conditions apply. Links to the publishers can be found in the list. Keep in mind that what is stated in the agreement that you sign is what applies.