Open Access (OA) aims to promote the dissemination of knowledge broadly and freely across the internet in a timely fashion.
OA can incorporate the same features as traditional scholarly publishing including peer-review of articles, copy-editing and quality assurance. The primary difference is that the publisher does not charge for access to the journal or other type of publication. Anyone can read, copy, print, download or link to the publication free of charge.
The legal basis for open access is the consent of the copyright owner (or where the copyright term has elapsed – the notion of the 'public domain').
For more information, see the Open Access Toolkit.
A closely related movement is Open Data - the idea that research data and government data should be made freely available for sharing and reuse.
The Open Knowledge Foundation's definition describes the 'openness' of data in the following statement:
"A piece of content or data is open if you are free to use, reuse, and redistribute it - subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and share-alike."
Firstly, look on the publisher's website for their terms and conditions for data usage. For information on open knowledge licenses which may be applied to data see the Open Knowledge Foundation's page on licenses. If it isn't clear, it will be necessary to contact the publisher of the data.
Here are a small selection of Open Data repositories across various research areas. Browse the Open Data directories for data in your research area.
UWA researchers can use the UWA Profiles and Research Repository to make their datasets accessible. Researchers can also store their research data in the Institutional Research Data Store (IRDS). Both these services are at NO COST to the researcher.
You can search for other research data repositories via re3data.org. This registry has indexed over 2,000 data repositories which can all be accessed and searched via the website.