Open Access: A Benefit for all Parties?

Figure 1: Open Access explained.

open-access_552_fc41f47bdd8c1701095441d9c4a7892b616f0f34

As shown above, open access means articles have full re-use rights. This is a huge advantage for a number of reasons. Firstly, as explained by Nick Shockey and Jonathan Eisen, researchers can build tools to interact with articles, before finding connections between them. This way, research can be developed further. This may mean huge advancements in scientific development if the important information from articles can be accessed quickly and easily, enabling it to be developed upon.

Secondly, education, especially that in developing countries, can be vastly improved with open access. Personally, I find myself ignoring paid articles when it comes to my studies, due to an inability to pay large amounts of money for, possibly only a small portion of useful information. In poorer nations, this problem is hugely magnified. Therefore, with open access, educators and students will be able access more, freely. Consequently, the quality of education is likely to improve with development the material studied.

And, as the map below shows, open access articles are being accessed all over the world. This further emphasises the reach of free articles, as well as their global impact, especially in many developing nations.

Figure 2: Map showing where open access articles have been downloaded from MIT’s open access repository. Sep 2010 – Sep 2012.oa-map-showing-downloads-through-sept-20123Despite this, it has been argued by Geib that the quality of articles will fall. This is because with the development of open access, Journals must produce more articles (some of which will be of lower quality) in order to cover costs. Due to this added financial incentive, the overall quality of published articles is likely to fall. And with publishers claiming that ‘90% of potential readers can access 90% of all available content through national or research libraries’ it may be that this added ease of access is not worth the fall in quality.

This only highlights the depths of the issue of economic sustainability. There are many costs associated with producing academic articles and with users no longer paying to access them, open access may not be sustainable in the long run. I feel that, overall, open access, despite being favourable in theory, would not work in practise, especially given the fact that many institutions, including this university, have measures in place to ensure that their members can still access the necessary articles.

References:

Geib, A. (2013). Advantages and Disadvantages of Open Access. Edanz Editing. Available: https://www.edanzediting.com/blogs/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-open-access

Pros and Cons. Open access. Available: http://www.openaccess.nl/en/what-is-open-access/pros-and-cons

Worlock, K. (2004). The Pros and Cons of Open Access. Nature. Available: http://www.nature.com/nature/focus/accessdebate/34.html

Cohen, M (2012). Open Access Week Though of the Day #2. CUNY. Available: https://openatcuny.commons.gc.cuny.edu/2012/10/23/open-access-week-thought-of-the-day-2/

Shockey, N & Eisen J. (2012). Open Access Explained! YouTube. Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=L5rVH1KGBCY

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4 Comments

  1. Hi Harry,

    Once again, another well thought out and put together blog post. Your use of Piktochart to display what open access is and means was effective as it made your post visually appealing. I enjoyed the emphasis you put on how open access can be beneficial to developing countries and why it is very important for education worldwide.This relates to the previous topic of the digital divide and the disparity of access to technology in developing countries. I believe that open access can be a tool to help end the digital divide.

    Your use of figures and stats only helped to back your points and stress the importance of open access around the world. The inclusion of your own personal experiences with open access and coming across paid journals again helped me to understand open access further.

    However, knowing the importance of open access and its impact on education worldwide, surely you would be obliged to agree that the pros outweigh the cons. Do you still have the same stance on not agreeing with open access knowing the benefits it has to developing countries?

    Melak.

    Like

  2. Hi Harry,

    Really enjoyed your post! I liked your use of different multimedia to keep your post engaging and there was a clear structure throughout. I definitely agree with your comment about avoiding content or articles that you have to pay for, I also find myself clicking off a webpage very quickly whenever I see a paywall.

    Your cultural argument is something that I actually did not think about when writing on Open Access, because it is quite easy to talk about what you know or what you experience personally. The idea that Open Access will be of more benefit to developing countries definitely makes sense, however regarding your point about sustainability, are you saying that Open Access should only be available in poorer countries to improve education but not in developed countries like the UK where institutions (like this University) have systems in place to ensure members have good access? Where would you draw the line?

    Overall it was a very good and in depth post that definitely made me think!

    Davina

    Like

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