Figure 1: Open Access explained.
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.Despite 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.
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