Open Access is the free, immediate, online availability of research articles coupled with the rights to use these articles fully in the digital environment. Open Access ensures that anyone can access and use these results—to turn ideas into industries and breakthroughs into better lives.
The fees associated with open access are charged upfront to cover production costs. The fees can be covered by the author, but mainly it's covered by the author's employer or funding agency. Fees can be waived if the journal has institutional subsidies. OA publishers with annual memberships waive the fee for researchers affiliated with those institutions. There are many types of open access business models besides "authors pays."
Read More at Open Access Overview
How does it differ from predatory publishing?
While both models have associated publishing costs, predatory publishing does not offer the same editorial services and peer review process reputable open access journals do. Predatory publishing will not be indexed in the same databases, leading to poor discoverability. If in doubt, contact the library for help.
Misconceptions of Open Access
Gold- Author publishes their work in an open access journal that allows free access to articles immediately upon publication.
Journals are peer reviewed, are easy to find, and allow authors to retain copyright.
Green- Author and publisher negotiate to allow a version of the article made publicly available through a personal archive, website or institutional repository.
These repositories are organized by discipline or institution, peer review is done elsewhere, and publications can be preprints, postprints or both.