"Open-access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions." The Open Access movement is dedicated to making research freely available to everyone, regardless of their institutional affiliation. Without subscription fees creating a barrier to access to the scholarly literature, people are free to "read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles". This allows members of the public, as well as scientists at institutions that cannot afford quickly increasing journal subscription costs, to access important scientific information they may not otherwise have, advancing public understanding of science and speeding the pace of scientific discovery.
What you can do:
Open Access Explained! from PhD Comics
Narrated by: Nick Shockey and Jonathan Eisen
There are two main paths for Open Access publishing, green and gold.
Gold OA refers to publishing in open access journals. These are peer-reviewed journals that typically allow authors to retain their copyright. Instead of charging high subscription fees, open access journals pay for their operating costs using methods like advertisements, sponsorship, and author fees. Many universities provide funding for their researchers who publish in open access journals, and other fees can be offset by institutional discounts. You can find a list of open access journals at the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ).
Green OA refers to self-archiving or publishing pre-prints of a scholarly article. This could mean placing your publications in an institutional repository like the UMB Digital Archive or in subject-specific archives, many of which can be found in the Registry of Open Access Repositories. See the Repositories page for more information about sharing your work in repositories.