Instead of making content valuable by making it scarce, open access makes new knowledge valuable by making it widely available to scholars and researchers. For example:
Open-access journals — whose costs are covered through publication fees, sponsorships, in-kind contributions, or other sources of support — are emerging as an alternative to the traditional subscription model. More than 2200 open-access journals in wide-ranging fields are listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals.
Online open archives hosted by universities (“institutional repositories”) and governments provide free access to articles, supplementary materials, supporting data, working papers, pre-prints, images, and more. They extend the options for disseminating scholarly work, serving as complements to traditional journals and monographs. So, for example, physics papers often will first appear in preliminary form for community feedback in the arXiv.org physics repository. Subsequently, they appear in final form in a peer-reviewed journal and in arXiv.org. Despite the free availability on arXiv.org, physics journals have continued to flourish.
New kinds of works - wikis, open textbooks, annotated digitized primary source materials - are providing researchers and scholars with new options for sharing knowledge.
Breaking down or lowering access barriers does not mean giving up peer review. Open-access and economically priced journals recognize and preserve the important role of peer review in scholarly communication. E-book series are being developed by reputable presses using traditional editorial practices.
Open access utilizes new technology, sustainability strategies, and legal mechanisms to facilitate the sharing of information that is so vital to the progress of scholarship.