Open Access (OA) refers to digital, scholarly content that is available online and accessible to anyone with the technological means of accessing it. OA literature is available free of charge and has few, if any, copyright or licensing restrictions.
OA means that people can access high quality resources and information without paying the high cost of subscription or access fees. Information can become OA when authors chose to attach a creative commons license to their work, or publish through an OA journal that promotes the free dissemination of scholarly work. OA aims to remove pricing and copyright barriers to equalize access to information across the globe (Suber, 2015).
Prices for scholarly journals have continued to rise in recent years, while funding for libraries has remained mostly stagnant. Sooner or later, many libraries will no longer be able to afford the plethora of resources they once had. Students, faculty, and researchers may suffer without access to adequate access to up to date resources. OA offers a way out of that pitfall. Libraries do not have to scramble to come up with the funds to pay for subscription fees to OA resources. OA creates a culture of sharing and open communication from which everyone can benefit.
The impact of Open Access (OA) can be observed on a social and individual level. There are a variety of reasons to consider Open Access when selecting a publishing model, two major reasons include:
Increased access to scholarly work - Open Access allows more people to access scholarly works for their own research, improvement and educational needs. Clinicians with smaller practices, underfunded medical facilities, and medical organizations in remote areas may have extremely limited access to the latest news and research within their field. OA helps lower that barrier, because users do not have to pay exorbitant subscription fees to access vital medical information resources.
Increased author impact - Open Access also increases an author’s citation impact, as the likelihood that a work will be cited as a resource increases as more people have access to that work. This helps increase an author’s influence in their field and gain more recognition for their work.
In a study conducted by Gargouri, et al., OA had a statistically significant, positive impact on the number of citations an article received (2010). Hua et al., also found that in the field of oncology, OA articles received more citations than traditionally published articles (2017). Alternatively, a randomized control trial found that OA increased readership, but did not have a significant impact on citations within the first year of publication (Davis, Lewenstein, Simon, Booth, & Connolly, 2008). Overall, most research agrees publishing in OA journals has definite benefits for authors and readers.