Open access (OA) refers to online research outputs that are free of all restrictions on access (e.g. access tolls) and free of many restrictions on use (e.g. certain copyright and license restrictions). Open access can be applied to all forms of published research output, including peer-reviewed and non peer-reviewed academic journal articles, conference papers, theses, book chapters, and monographs.
Open Access ensures that articles are free at the point of consumption. Rather than charge for access, Open Access publishers apply an initial fee at the time an article is accepted for publication. This fee, known as an Article Processing Charge (APC), covers the costs of the production process. Often this charge will be covered by the authors’ affiliated institution(s), or by the funding body responsible for commissioning the research.
By using a liberal copyright license, Open Access removes barriers and allows researchers to make use of articles in new ways. Other than their cost-recovery model, Open Access journals are no different from traditional subscription-based journals; they undergo the same peer-review and quality control as any other scholarly journal. Moreover, Open Access allows for maximum visibility, uptake and use of the published material.
Through Open Access publications, scientists can avoid subscription fees and copyright and licensing restrictions to access free scholarly literature. Since Open Access publishing allows the permanent restoration of scientific data through digital copies, other than the constraint of Internet access, scientists around the world can freely share information and collaborate to enhance the progress of science. Open Access journals not only give royalty to free literature, but also reduce costs for paper-copy production, physical storage, and distribution through digitalized copies.
The benefits of implementing Open Access are reaped by many end users, such as, students, researchers, clinicians, patients, policy makers, and journalists. As long as there is Internet access, people from all over the world, be it an underdeveloped country in Africa, a developing country like India or developed countries such as USA or UK, will have immediate access to latest research findings. Thus, Open Access initiative helps in unlocking the traditional methods of subscription articles and releasing information to tertiary level readers, who normally would not have access to first hand research studies.