Open Access provides the means to maximise the visibility, and thus the uptake and use, of research outputs. Open Access is the immediate, online, free availability of research outputs without the severe restrictions on use commonly imposed by publisher copyright agreements. It is definitely not vanity publishing or self-publishing, nor about the literature that scholars might normally expect to be paid for, such as books for which they hope to earn royalty payments. It concerns the outputs that scholars normally give away free to be published – peer-reviewed journal articles, conference papers and datasets of various kinds.
Reference: Swan, A. & Chan, L. (2009) Open Access Scholarly Information Sourcebook. Retrieved from http://www.openoasis.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=130&Itemid=390