"Open-access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions." (Source: Peter Suber, "Open Access Overview")
Open Access is an alternative to the current closed access (toll access) model of scholarly publishing. Closed access publishers require a subscription to access content, limiting the readership and impact of the research and scholarship. Open Access resources make content freely available to all Internet users.
For more information see the UNO Library Guide to Open Access.
When you deposit your thesis or dissertation in ScholarWorks@UNO, you have the option to (1) make it immediately available Open Access; (2) restrict to the UNO campus network for one year, then make available Open Access; or (3) impose an embargo that blocks all access for a specified period of time (1, 3, or 5 years), before being made available Open Access.
By making your thesis or dissertation openly accessible you are making it more discoverable to other researchers, thereby maximizing its impact in your field and accelerating scholarship and research.
Remember that you own the copyright for your work unless and until you transfer it to someone else. In archiving your thesis or dissertation in ScholarWorks@UNO you are granting the university a non-exclusive right to distribute it online, but you still hold the copyright.