Open access is becoming more prevalent as our society becomes increasingly digitized. It seeks to return academic publishing to its original purpose of spreading knowledge and allow that knowledge to be built upon.
I get frustrated when I find an academic article that sounds perfect for featuring in my university work, only to find out that I cannot afford to buy it; especially when there is no guarantee that the content will reflect the abstract and be relevant in my studies! However, I’ve never really considered why content producers choose to publish their findings through traditional journals rather than adopting the approach of open access.
Evidence has suggested that paid content is important as digitization grows, with 90% of online content expected to be behind paywalls in the next three years. However, there are significant advantages to content producers for publishing open access content. A study by Oxford University found that readership of articles increases 140% when they are openly accessible. This increased readership means that the producer’s work is downloaded and cited more frequently, reaching broader audiences.
Open access systems such as OER (Open Education Resources) benefit not only the students using the content but also the producer; their work is not only shared more through redistribution but it is also improved and built upon through revisions made.
An argument for content producers avoiding open access is the cost of publishing your own work. Publishing open access content is not yet cheaper than the traditional form is not yet cheaper than current costs of licences. However, countries such as Australia and the Netherlands are pushing funding for open access publishing. Of the $4.6 million of Australian open access funding provided so far, the project has yielded $25 million.
Open access journals do not yet have the same reputation as traditional journals, and authors are susceptible to predatory open access journals trying to mislead and cheat them. But did you know that there is no actual evidence that the traditional publishing model is optimal? The publishing monopoly created by this original model is becoming less powerful as digitization increases.
It has been argued that open access publishing is not sustainable. However, with emerging nations BRIC and MINT, surely open access for lower-income countries and smaller specialised organisations has benefits for both the content producer and user?
Despite its disadvantages, open access publishing can be incredibly beneficial for content producers and helps to return academic to its original purpose. What do you think?
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PHD Comics (2012) Open Access Explained! [Accessed 03/05/2016]
The Right to Research Coalition (2010) Why Open Access? [Accessed 06/05/2016]
The Drum (2013) 90% of online content to be held behind paywalls in three years media company survey suggests [Accessed 03/05/2016]
Centre for American Progress (2012) Dramatically Bringing Down the Cost of Education with OER [Accessed 03/05/2016]
Edanz (2013) Advantages and Disadvantages of Open Access [Accessed 06/05/2016]
University of Technology Eindhoven (2016) Advantages and Disadvantages of Open Access [Accessed 05/05/2016]
Open Access Working Group (2012) Open Access: Not Just a Matter for Scientists [Accessed 06/05/2016]
Oxford Journals (2006) Assessing the Impact of Open Access [Accessed 05/05/2016]
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OER and Open Access images via Pinterest
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