According to Peter Suber, open access literature is "digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions." OA minimizes critical barriers to the sharing of ideas, such as restrictive copyrights or cost of information. As these barriers are removed, information can spread more easily, and the conversation can continue.
You may have heard the term "predatory journal" in relation to OA journals. The term refers to publications that "prey" on scholars who have a desire to publish and do so without adhering to peer-review processes or editorial oversight. Yet, this term isn't completely fair. There are many high-quality, peer-reviewed OA journals that adhere to strict editorial processes. And while it is true that some OA journals do not utilize strict peer-review processes, this problem is not unique to OA publications. The bottom line is that when researching articles or looking to publish, it is important to carefully vet any source to ensure that the information is credible. For more information about vetting journals, check out the Publish tab.