Open access literature refers to academic outputs that are available online without cost to anybody with access to the internet. Though primarily associated with journal articles, open access outputs can include conference proceedings, monographs, data and teaching materials (Open Educational Resources).
Additionally, much (though not all) open access literature has looser copyright restrictions than the rigid "all rights reserved" copyright restrictions often imposed by traditional publishers.
Open access, in one way or another, is now mandated by many research funders. Making your work openly available also has the potential to benefit society, academia and your research career.
The University recently published its Institutional Open Access Policy. This policy includes the commitment to facilitating open access publication whenever appropriate, to ensure research findings benefit from potentially more rapid and wider dissemination.
As part of this policy, a new Institutional Open Access Fund has been set up to pay for APCs where funding for open access is not otherwise available. Please see the How to make your work openly accessible page for more information about eligibility and how to apply for these funds.
At the end of March 2014 HEFCE announced their policy on Open Access and the REF.
In summary, the policy states that the author accepted manuscript* for all journal articles and conference proceedings in publications with an ISSN must be deposited in a repository within three months of acceptance. These articles will then be made available on an open access basis through the repository after the publisher's embargo period has expired.
For humanities and social science subjects, these embargo periods must not exceed 24 months while in STEM subjects they must not exceed 12 months. You can check your journal's policy on rchive.it - just type in the ISSN or title and it should retrieve information about the length of the embargo period. If your journal's policy is not compliant, don't panic! Contact Stephen.Carlton@liverpool.ac.uk to discuss your options.
This policy comes into force on April 1st 2016 and, to be clear, only covers journal articles and conference proceedings accepted after that date. All other research outputs are out of scope. if you're not sure about anything, get in touch.
Complying with the policy is easy. As soon as you're accepted, just go to Liverpool Elements, click "deposit your work", fill in the six mandatory fields marked with a red asterix and upload your manuscript. We'll do the rest.
*author accepted manuscript (sometimes called the postprint) = the version of your paper that has been peer-reviewed but has not yet been typeset or formatted by the publisher.