Open access (OA) literature is a method of sharing scholarship that is "digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. What makes OA possible is the internet and the consent of the author or copyright-holder. OA is entirely compatible with peer review, and all the major OA initiatives for scientific and scholarly literature insist on its importance. Just as authors of journal articles donate their labor, so do most journal editors and referees participating in peer review. OA literature is not free to produce, even if it is less expensive to produce than conventionally published literature."
--From Open Access Overview, by Peter Suber
Open Access is valuable because it:
MYTH: Open Access journals are of low quality, are not peer reviewed, and are the equivalent of self-publishing, and thus will be looked down upon by my colleagues and peers.
Most open access journals are peer reviewed with the same or higher standards as traditional scholarly journals. There have been numerous studies showing an increase in impact by publishing in open access journals because of larger dissemination and increased accessibility.
MYTH: Open Access means giving up all my copyrights in my work.
Open Access works within the current U.S. copyright system. When publishing with traditional scholarly journals, authors typically sign an agreement that transfers all their copyrights to the publisher, retaining no rights for themselves to re-use or distribute their own work. However, with open access journals, authors retain their rights to re-use their work in teaching and further scholarship.
MYTH: Open Access and Public Access are the same thing.
Public Access is a requirement of funding agencies as a matter of federal law. The National Institutes of Health requires access to research that it has funded. The NIH policy allows for access immediately or within a maximum embargo period. Open Access, on the other hand, is a publishing policy that has been adopted by many journals.
MYTH: Only libraries benefit from Open Access because they are shifting the cost of subscriptions to the authors and funding bodies.
Library budgets are stressed, but librarians do not promote Open Access as a solution to a budget crisis. They promote Open Access as a new publication model that fosters increased access to research information and promotes new scholarship and discovery. Further, this increased access to information not only benefits persons in the United States but also persons in developing countries.