Open Access is immediate, free, online availability of published scholarly output, with or without permission for free reuse.
Immediate means concurrent with publication. Delayed access, say after a 12- or 24-month publisher embargo, is good, but the impact and public benefit of research suffer the longer it is kept from being fully open.
Free means without cost to the end user or their intermediaries (like schools, hospitals, or libraries). Some open access publishers charge a fee to authors to cover the costs of the infrastructure that makes this possible.
Online availability is the linchpin of open access, enabling the immediate and free sharing of information worldwide.
Published scholarly output traditionally means journal articles, but movements for open monographs, textbooks, datasets, and other types of research and educational materials are gaining strength.
Reuse rights allow for groundbreaking new methodologies, like text and data mining, to be applied to the work. Some publishers and advocacy organizations consider this an indispensable requirement of open access, and some do not.
For more about the spectrum from closed to open access, check out the How Open Is It? guide from SPARC, PLOS, and OASPA.
Above is the first line of the open access resolution passed unanimously by the faculty of the College of Wooster on March 4, 2013. Click here to read the full text of the resolution.
Wooster is also a founding member of Lever Press, an open access publisher of scholarly monographs.
The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) is a coalition supporting open access, open education, and open data initiatives.
International Open Access Week is a yearly opportunity to learn about the benefits of Open Access, share information with colleagues, and inspire wider participation in open access. It's held on the last week of October.
The Right to Research Coalition was founded by students and founded on the belief that no student should be denied access to the articles they need because their institution cannot afford them.