Research outputs that are Open Access (OA) are freely available online and lack the licensing and copyright restrictions common in traditional publishing models. While physicists have been making preprints of their research freely available online since 1991, the Budapest Open Access Initiative (2002) and Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities (2003) brought together an international community of advocates and defined the movement. The Berlin Declaration currently has over 500 signatories.
The OA movement was initially a response to two major changes in scholarly communication
As the OA movement has gained momentum, funders, governments, and universities have created policies supporting universal access to research, especially government-funded research (learn more about US federal public access mandate here). See the OpenAccess@OSU tab for more information about the OSU Faculty Open Access Policy and ScholarsArchive@OSU, Oregon State's institutional repository. There is much more to learn! Check out the resources below depending on how much time you have.
Internationally and here in the US, a growing number of institutions are signing on to the concept of Open Access through OA Policies or Mandates which state that their researchers will make use of a local institutional repository to preserve their scholarly writings.
In June 2013, the OSU faculty passed an open access policy that requires the deposit of articles to the ScholarsArchive@OSU open access institutional repository. Faculty may use the Article Deposit Form to deposit their articles.
The past decade has seen a steep increase in the number of open access journals. Fewer than half charge article processing charges, or APCs. Some are distributed by traditional publishers such as Nature Publishing Group, Wiley, and Elsevier. Other credible publishers are fully open, like PLOS and PeerJ. Oregon State University faculty can have their costs covered for publication in PeerJ. Unfortunately, along with the rise of credible open access journals, there has been a parallel rise in predatory publishers. The scholarly communication librarian has written a blog post about identifying and avoiding predatory publishers.
Journals may have different levels of openness, as shown by the graphic below from SPARC [click on the image to be taken to a version where you can zoom in].