Broadly speaking, Scholarly Communication is the life cycle of scholarship. It is the process through which research is discovered, accessed, created, reviewed, disseminated, acquired, and preserved. The process involves numerous stakeholders, including authors, publishers, libraries, institutions, and funding agencies.
Open Access, with its promotion of broad dissemination and widespread discovery, may be one component of the Scholarly Communication cycle. However, Scholarly Communication extends beyond the Open Access movement and deals with everything from author rights to bibliometrics to publishing practices.
Open Access (OA) is the free, online availability of scholarly, peer-reviewed research, for which the authors and peer-reviewers receive no financial compensation.
Scholarly publishing can be prohibitively expensive. Between 1986 and 2003, journal prices increased by 215%, over three times the rate of inflation during that same period (Panitch & Michalak, 2005). This essentially puts research out of reach for the majority of people worldwide. In many ways, Open Access (OA) is a response to both the rising costs of journals and the advent of technology which makes virtually instantaneous, global distribution possible.
In traditional publishing, readers pay to access articles. In Gold Open Access, the costs of publishing are shifted from the user to the producers. Some journals charge authors fees to have work made freely available to users worldwide while others are subsidized through institutions or advertisement. Well-known examples include PLOS One and BioMed Central.
In Green Open Access, articles may be published in traditional journals, but authors also place copies in institutional or subject repositories so their research is still accessible to everyone. This is often referred to as self-archiving. Examples of subject repositories are arXiv.org in Physics and PubMed Central in Biomedical and Life Sciences. See the Open Access Resources page for more subject repositories.
There are many benefits of Open Access. Authors in particular benefit from:
(List adapted from Mount Allison Libraries Open Access Guide)