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When you make your work Open Access, you grant the public the right to:

  • Download, print, and read your work
  • Copy and distribute it
  • Search within or link to the full text of it
  • Crawl it for indexing

Open Access means free online access to research and data for the public, as opposed to traditional fee-based access. It makes research articles, data, presentations, and other types of research freely available through Open Access journals, university-based repositories, discipline-based repositories, and other open sources. This is work created through labor from researchers, peer-reviewers, and editors, and it is made possible by the generosity of universities and frequently government- or non-profit-based grant funding.

"Open Access Explained!" PHD Comics, 2012.

This can be done for any purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those related to gaining internet access. 

Open Access is increasingly being required by federal funding agencies, and as a result more and more researchers must make their research freely available to the general public, policy makers, government agencies, scholars in other countries, in addition to those in academia.  Open Access increases the distribution and accessibility of research, and as a result, increases the likelihood it will be used and cited.