"Open-access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.
What makes it possible is the internet and the consent of the author or copyright-holder."
From Peter Suber's Very brief introduction to Open Access
Learn more : Open Access and Scholarly Publishing
Another way to provide access to articles is for their authors to store them in digital repositories, such as eScholarship@BC. But how do you find articles in these repositories? Search or browse for subject repositories, using the Open Access Directory (OAD) or OpenDOAR:
Open Access (OA) is part of what some are calling an information revolution. Until recently, most academic journal articles have been inaccessible to most people. That is beginning to change.
Right now, subscriptions to most scholarly journals are very expensive, ranging from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars. OA shifts the cost of producing journals away from subscription by using a variety of new funding methods, ranging from grants to university or professional organization subsidies. What this means for you: when the journal's publication is funded up-front, the paywall for accessing articles disappears.
What do academic authors get out of Open Access? You might be surprised to learn that academic authors have never earned significant royalties from articles. What they do earn is exposure. The more readers, the more citations. The more citations, the higher the likelihood of tenure, grants, and awards. Removing paywalls should ultimately increase readership and public exposure.