Open Access when applied to scholarly publishing encompasses three related but distinct issues – author rights, accessibility, and user rights.
The purest form of open access advocates unimpeded access to scholarly research in digital format that is free from most copyright and licensing restrictions. This means that the material is available without a subscription charge for anyone to read, download, copy, distribute, print, display and modify. From a practical standpoint this means that anyone with access to the Internet can find and use, to the fullest capacity, any open access publication.
Source: Open Access
Open-access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.
OA is entirely compatible with peer review, and all the major OA initiatives for scientific and scholarly literature insist on its importance.
From A Very Brief Introduction to Open Access by Peter Suber.
“By open access, we mean immediate, free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search or link to the full text of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software or use them for any other lawful purpose…” Budapest definition of OA Budapest Open Access Initiative
"Open-access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. What makes it possible is the internet and the consent of the author or copyright-holder." Peter Suber http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/brief.htm.
The Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities is another important statement about OA.
WUSTL Provost Edward S. Macias signed both the Budapest Open Access Initiative and the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities.
Scholarly publishing is not free; new approaches are evolving to pay for peer review, copy editing, and distribution of works. Income Models for Supporting Open Access is a nice overview.
Two popular ways to describe open access models are Gold OA publishing and Green OA self-archiving.
Open access (OA) to literature affects everyone – readers, authors, researchers, scientists, humanists, librarians, students, universities, scholarly institutions. Research is more valuable when it is shared.
When information is freely available:
Some OA advantages:
Yes. The peer review process, an essential element of scholarly literature, can be accomplished in an open access journal or book. Costs of peer review can be paid by economic models other than subscription/toll-access and can be separated from the cost and format of a publication. Most OA articles use traditional peer review. Alternative methods of peer review may appear in a few OA publications so you may want to consider this as a factor when choosing a publisher.
Yes. Open access (OA) principles encourage authors to retain all or parts of their rights and voluntarily give free access to their work. Often OA publishing uses Creative Commons licenses and the copyright is still owned by the author. Peter Suber reviews several issues about copyright and open access (July 2011).
Scholars and students at Washington University (WU) often think almost everything is open access because the libraries make so much available to WU-users through various subscriptions, licenses and purchases. However, free to you does not mean open access to the world.
Public access is an important movement. Several funders require that research they fund be made freely available within a certain amount of time after publication. FASTR is a proposal to require this of most federally funded research. More info on FASTR. Public access usually does not result in open access by the Budapest definition. We can read the articles (after the embargo period), but other use may be limited.
Many publishers embargo their content for 2-36 months after publication. It is convenient to have older articles freely available, but again they are usually not open access by the Budapest definition.