Have you ever tried to find information for your essay, and found an article that looks like the article that would answer all your questions, only to discover that you cannot access it. This has happened to me countless times and it’s pretty frustrating. Wouldn’t it be ideal to just have access to everything? What if I told you this utopia could be possible through ‘Open Access’?
What is Open Access?
Journal articles are often restricted, requiring subscription via your institution to read particular articles. For this reason, many scholars are advocates of Open Access. Open Access refers to free, immediate, online, available research articles with re-use rights allowing anyone in the world to access the content (PHD Comics, 2012)
(Image created by me)
Open Access can be disseminated in multiple ways as exemplified in this graphic (Chase, 2016)
Open Access in Reality:
You would expect digitisation to decrease the price of journal articles as the price of printing has been eliminated and dissemination has been eased. However, in reality journal prices have increased by over 250% in the past 30 years, with the average price for journal subscriptions being $1000 per year (PHD Comics, 2012). The price of journal articles have risen 4 times faster than inflation since 1986 (Hornswoggle, 2013). In fact, Lepitak (2013) predicts that 90% of content online will be held behind a paywall, showing how Open Access will only travel further and further from reach.
Why is Open Access not the norm?
“Education is a matter of sharing” – Wiley et al. 2012.
Theoretically Open Access is a great idea as it allows spread of knowledge, but why is it not fully implemented in reality?
This video outlines the positives and negatives of Open Access, with the negatives for content producers acting as reasons for lack of wide-spread implementation.
(Video created by me)
What will the future of Open Access be?
Whilst the disincentives to content producers is recognised, it can be argued that since there is the ability to freely share information, there is also moral and ethical obligation to act upon this (Wiley et al. 2012), as discussed in Topic 4.
Open Access facilitates spread of education and knowledge, allowing for existing knowledge to then be built upon to further education. In my view, this makes Open Access an important issue to contest for. Hence, the positives of Open Access must be emphasised. The issue must be put into the broader conversation, in the eyes of public debate, to make education more affordable and accessible (ibid.).
Word count: 406
- Brown, A. 2012, Open access: why academic publishers still add value, [Online], Available: https://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/blog/2012/nov/22/open-access-research-publishing-academics?fb=optOut [accessed 2016, December 9].
- Chase, D. 2016, What is Open Access?, [Online], available: http://library.stonybrook.edu/scholarly-communication/open-access/ [accessed 2016, December 10].
- Hall, M. 2014, Why open access should be a key issue for university leaders, [Online], Available: https://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/blog/2014/feb/18/open-access-key-issue-university-leaders?CMP=twt_gu [accessed 2016, December 10].
- Hornswoggle. 2013, Open Access in less than 4 minutes, [Online], Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbsLB8wzjZU [accessed 2016, December 10].
- Lepitak, S. 2013, 90% of online content to be held behind paywalls in three years media company survey suggests, [Online], Available: http://www.thedrum.com/news/2013/04/12/90-online-content-be-held-behind-paywalls-three-years-media-company-survey-suggests [accessed 2016, December 7].
- PHD Comics. 2012, Open Access Explained, Open Access Explained, [Online], Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=L5rVH1KGBCY [accessed 2016, December 7].
- Wiley, D., Green, C. and Soares, L. 2012, Dramatically Brining down the Cost of Education with OER: How Open Education Resources Unlock the door to Free Learning, [Online], Available: http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED535639 [accessed 2016, December 8].
- Worlock, K. 2004, The pros and cons of Open Access, [Online], Available: http://www.nature.com/nature/focus/accessdebate/34.html [accessed 2016, December 10].
- Wiley, 2014 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2HMouOV-Lg
- Dunn, D. 2013, Education Finally Ripe for Radical Innovation by Social Entrepreneurs, [Online], Available: http://www.forbes.com/sites/skollworldforum/2013/04/07/education-finally-ripe-for-radical-innovation-by-social-entrepreneurs/#5e62c4d7a557 [accessed 2016, December 7].