Open access refers to freely available, digital, online information. Open access scholarly literature is free of charge and often carries less restrictive copyright and licensing barriers than traditionally published works, for both the users and the authors.
While OA is a newer form of scholarly publishing, many OA journals comply with well-established peer-review processes and maintain high publishing standards. For more information, see Peter Suber's overview of Open Access: http://legacy.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/overview.htm.
Scholarly Publishing is the system through which research results and other scholarly writings are created, evaluated for quality, disseminated to the scholarly community, and preserved for future use for other scholars, learners, and the public good. The system is in a state of rapid flux and evolution, driven by new information technologies, low marginal costs of online distribution, and changing reader expectations.
Authors have found new and creative ways of disseminating their scholarly work. Over the past decade, Open Access has become central to advancing the interests of researchers, scholars, students, businesses, the public, and librarians. Increasingly, institutions that support research — from public and private research funders to institutions of higher education — are implementing policies that require researchers to make articles that report on research generated from their funding openly accessible and fully useable by the public.
Scholarly Publishing has become an overarching term used by academic libraries to describe a suite of services that support academic researchers and authors - open access publishing, institutional repositories, electronic theses and dissertations, authors’ rights and copyright advising, research data management, digital preservation, open educational resources, and support for the tools of digital scholarship.
Hundreds of public and private universities in the U.S. and other countries have open access policies, including the University of California, the University of Minnesota, Duke, MIT, all of Harvard’s 9 schools – and within the last year the University of Arizona and the University of Massachusetts – Amherst. For a list of universities and funding agencies with open access policies, see the Registry of Open Access Repository Mandates and Policies (ROARMAP)
What are the purposes of an open access policy?
Green OA - Refers to self-archiving of the pre-print or post-print article manuscript in repositories.
Gold OA - Refers to articles in fully accessible OA journals. Gold open access journals are supported by author-side article processing charges (APCs). Gold open access journals are not subscription based and charge an APC as a means of covering the costs of publishing. The funding model changes from “reader pays” to “author pays.”
Hybrid OA - Refers to subscription journals that offer the option for authors to make individual articles open access (freely available to everyone) by paying an APC fee.
Harvard University's Peter Suber is one of the leaders in the open access movement. His book, Open Access (published by MIT Press in 2012), provides an excellent overview of open access publishing and its benefits. This is an open access book and can be downloaded or read online for free.