Welcome to the free for all

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




3 thoughts on “Welcome to the free for all

  1. Hi Claire,

    I really enjoy the style of your posts every week. The way you convey your points is engaging and beautifully structured, and this week’s post proves this.You immediately make the post personal and engage the reader and I think this is a particularly valuable skill to incorporate in any blog.

    I was particularly drawn in by the way you structured your post in a chronological, easy-to-follow succession of subheadings, making it clear what you were discussing and how this lead into the rest of the post. Your use of media and graphics were perhaps what made your post really stand out, as all of them were highly informative and significantly contributed to the purpose of your post. The way you interspersed these with facts and referenced information meant that you were able to fit in plenty of information but keep me thoroughly engaged throughout, which is no mean feat.

    Taking the concept of open access forwards, I agree entirely with your quick summary of what you expect the future of open access to be. Do you think it is the responsibility of any particular groups to take control of the situation? Would it be more effective for academics or journals to take a stand and contribute to open access, for example?

    I loved your post this week and wish there were many more to come!



    1. Hey Will,

      Thanks for your lovely comment, I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

      With regards to your question, it’s hard to pin a particular group upon who should be responsible; whilst it should be free for content users, there should also be no cost for content producers to provide their work for free. I think that it is a structural issue that needs more awareness, as currently journals can still ‘get away with’ charging for content. I think that students and academics are particularly important in raising awareness as they are groups that are particularly influenced by the matter, and would be most able to influence change.

      I have thoroughly enjoyed your posts every week, they always stand out as being particularly engaging, and you always manage to put an interesting twist to the topics – great job with your blog!



  2. Pingback: Reflection: Opening Up – What would Will do?

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