A key theme that I’ve discussed throughout my blog posts has been the ease of accessibility and communication that the internet provides. The reality of the open access of material published online, however, does come with many pros and cons and undeniably causes a stir of debate. As a student, I rely heavily on accessing reliable papers online for my own work, and nothing is more frustrating than to discover that the one journal I desperately need to read is completely inaccessible due to its hefty price tag. This situation is made even more discouraging upon learning that, in 2013, a market survey predicted that 90% of all online content would be retained behind paywalls by 2016 (Lepitak, 2013). Tick tock…
Bjork (2004) explains how unrestricted access to academic journals allows the reader to freely view a respectable publication, of which may be an invaluable tool in understanding and developing any findings. Realistically, ground-breaking scientific knowledge can only be deemed significant if it is freely accessible. I believe that once it becomes a commodity, the knowledge becomes downgraded – the findings are no longer universal. To put this notion into a hypothetical context, would it be ethical if the researcher who cracks the cure for cancer were to put a price on these tremendously valuable discoveries? Click HERE to answer!
The points that I have bought to light so far are all from the perspective of the ‘viewer’. As an academic content producer, these are some advantages and disadvantages that arise from publishing material freely:
- Discoveries can be able to be viewed by everyone. Including people that are from developing countries and thus may not have an easy route into joining the academic community.
- An increased audience. In turn, this will increase the number of citations that you will receive, which is essential in standing out amongst the vast quantity of papers being published every month.
- Technology is used more meaningfully – the internet does not revolve around Facebook! (Storer, 2015)
(Source – Australian Open Access Support Group)
- Sustainability on a global level. Research funding can either come from government-funded entities or the taxpayer, depending on the host country.
- There is always the risk of work being misconstrued or plagiarised completely.
Perhaps I have listed more advantages because I’m slightly biased and think that academia should be free for all. Retrospectively, however, we need a happy medium: open access, profiting the viewer yet still finding a way to reward the author/researcher.
Bjork, B. C., 2004. Open access to scientific publications – an analysis of the barriers to change? Information Research. Volume. 9. No.2. Finland [online] Available at: <https://helda.helsinki.fi/bitstream/handle/10227/647/bjork.pdf?sequence=1> [Accessed 1st May 2015]
Leptikah, S. (2012) 90% of online content to be held behind paywalls in three years media company survey suggests [online] Available at: <http://www.thedrum.com/news/2013/04/12/90-online-content-be-held-behind-paywalls-three-years-media-company-survey-suggests> [Accessed: 1st May 2015]
Storer, R., 2015. Advantages and disadvantages of open access in libraries. SirsiDynix.com [blog] 1st April. Available at: http://www.sirsidynix.com/news/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-open-access-in-libraries [Accessed 1st May 2015]