Open Access (OA) is literature that is available free of charge, and also free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. The move towards OA is a grass-roots response to the increasingly high cost of journals, which makes them difficult for libraries to afford and for users to access.
There have been several defining principles for OA. These include the Budapest Open Access Initiative, the Bethesda Principles, and the Berlin Declaration on Open Access. While they vary from each other somewhat, they all emphasize that authors and copyright holders grant a free, irrevocable, worldwide, and perpetual right for all users to access OA works. In addition, users can copy, use, distribute and make derivative works, as long as proper attribution of authorship is given. An important aspect of the principles also mandates that a copy of the work is deposited immediately upon publication in at least one public online repository.
While access to OA articles is free, there are still costs involved. Most OA publishers use the "author pays" model, where the author of an accepted OA article pays the costs for editing and distribution. A variation of this model is an institutional membership, where the author's institution pays an annual membership fee to an OA publisher, and all authors from the institution get their payments for accepted articles either waived, or offered at a discount. In almost all cases, OA publishers make exceptions for authors who cannot afford to pay. Cornell faculty participate on editorial boards, serve as peer reviewers and submit articles for publication to OA journals, just like traditional journals.
The Weill Cornell Medical Library supports the concept of OA regarding information generated from federally funded scientific and medical research, as part of its mission to provide access to timely, relevant, and accurate information. The library provides multiple avenues to educate our scholarly community about OA publishing, and encourages all other stakeholders in the scholarly communications process to contact the library faculty or seek other opportunities to become involved. Here, you can find information about this issue, and links to several scholarly OA publishing resources.