Open access publishing - which includes both journal and book publishers - means users can read the works for free. Many OA publishers also include licensing - often using Creative Commons licenses - that give users legal permission to reuse the work in certain ways that go beyond fair use and allow the authors to retain their full copyright.
A number of traditional, subscription-based journals allow authors to pay a charge to make their individual articles open access.
You should consider a number of factors when deciding which open access journal to publish in, and many of those factors are the same ones you would consider when deciding which traditional journal to publish in. Watch this video from Think. Check. Submit. on things to consider when choosing a journal.
Other factors to consider:
The journal is listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals.
The journal has a clearly defined scope.
The journal clearly lists all members of its editorial board and its publisher.
The journal is affiliated with a known scholarly society or academic institution.
The journal is also up front and clear about its policy in regards to copyright and what, if any, licensing it uses for articles (such as a Creative Commons license).
The journal has both an ISSN (International Standard Serial Number) and, for each article, a DOI (Digital Object Identifier).
Editors do not send obtrusive marketing emails and narrowly focus emails seeking contributions to those in the appropriate fields.
If the journal claims to be indexed by specific databases, verify it actually is.
Some open access journals, such as PLOS ONE, charge authors a fee to publish their work, known as an article processing charge. Many grant funders, including the federal government, will allow you to build this fee into your grant.
At this time, UNR does not have a fund to help researchers pay this fee.
If you do not have a grant funder or can't include it in your grant, ask your journal if they will waive the fee. Many of them allow for this.
Interested in starting your own open access journal? Check out these guides for tips on starting a small journal.