"There are many degrees and kinds of wider and easier access to this literature. By 'open access' to this literature, we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited." (Budapest Open Access Initiative as quoted by Peter Suber)
For a quick summary of Open Access see Peter Suber's brief introduction. The short video below outlines the benefits of the open access movement.
This video introduces the benefits of Open Access for authors.
Why it's an important issue
* Open access provides greater visibility and citation impact.
* Self-archiving speeds up the publishing process
* Open access gives you greater control over your publication
* Some granting agencies may require open access publishing (for example CIHR)
* Researchers in developing countries can have access to your publications