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Open Access (OA) is a movement that advocates for free accessiblity of content, usually online, to the public. In academia, OA literature provides an alternative to the currently unsustainable practice of allowing access to academic research solely through subscriptions. Increasingly, journal subscriptions are becoming prohibitively expensive, and as institutions are forced to cut journal subscriptions, the number of people able to access, view, build upon and cite these research articles decreases.

The OA model of scholarly communication provides greater dissemination of research, as people can view scholarly articles regardless of institutional affiliation or finances. Institutional repositories, like Open BU, and public repositories, like NIH's PubMed Central, are hubs for OA literature, and provide a place to showcase the work of a university, or taxpayer-funded research.