Open Access (OA) refers to free and unbridled access to scholarly information. It aims to provide users with information unencumbered by the motive of financial gain or profits. “Open access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions” (Suber, 2012). We can say that OA is “barrier-free” access. Information especially scholarly information, originates mostly in research and academic environments and is a result of innovation and thinking of individuals or teams working together on a theme or project. As per academic practices the work is normally published in journals so that results can be disseminated to learned communities as well as practitioners. However, one of the major problems in this cycle is the price tag for the content that is intended for the users. Information in the form of journal publications has become unaffordable by individuals. Even libraries are finding it extremely difficult to continue to subscribe to the list of journals as required by their users. Price rise in the costs of journals often forces libraries to cut down on the number of titles that they subscribe. Copyrightcan also be a significant access barrier. It is generally described as an instrument that grants the creator of an original work exclusive rights to its use, distribution and replication (Suber, 2012). What it implies is that if we have to access a work for reading or want to translate it into another language, distribute copies to colleagues, copy the text for mining or reformat it for reading with new technology, the permission of the copyright holder is needed, who we expect is indeed the creator of the work, such as author/s of an article(s). Often enough it is not the author who holds the copyright but the publisher of the journal to whom the author has transferred the rights. The above mentioned are the salient issues among several others in access to scholarly information. The main issue is that in the publication cycle,academics, researchers and practitioners work and produce content but when they need to access the content in the course of their work they (or the libraries where they access information) have to pay to get access. The basic contradiction is that the creators are not paid for their content by the publishers who in turn get paid on every copy of the content sold whereas, they deny access (or make it prohibitive by costs and access restrictions) to the community that is made up of these very authors/creators. It is in the context of the above discussion on copyright and issues in access to information resources that the concept of "Open Access (OA)" to information originated. OA ensures that there is free access to information and that the attribution and credit go to the original creators or authors of the content.
Open Access is defined as follows:
Open access refers to providing online access to scholarly publications and making that access free of charge and without most copyright and licensing restrictions (Suber, 2012)
Open access implies that “users must be able to copy, use, distribute, transmit and display the work publicly and to make and distribute derivative works, in any digital medium for any responsible purpose, subject to proper attribution of authorship”. [The Bethesda and Berlin statements on OA].