Open Access (OA) information is freely available and free to use.
In practice and in the context of academe, OA embodies a set of principles and practices that support open sharing, equitable and free access to research, and generous use rights related to research, data, scholarship, and teaching and learning materials. By removing technical, legal, and financial barriers to these scholarly outputs (many of which are publicly funded), OA helps advance knowledge sharing and knowledge production.
Have you lost access to your favorite journals after graduation or in between jobs? Have you lost access to journals due to library budget cuts? OA is important for many reasons.
OA is important because it helps make scholarly content freely available to everyone. It brings this content out from behind copyright barriers and publisher paywalls. It supports the basic goals of the research and teaching enterprise: sharing, creating, and advancing knowledge.
OA leads to increased visibility of your work, increased citation rates, the potential to drive innovation and global impact, improved public access, and compliance with many funder mandates.
OA also helps fix what many describe as a "broken" system of scholarly communication, where: