Open access is the ‘free, immediate online availability of research articles with full re-use rights.’ (Piled Higher and Deeper (PHD Comics), 2012) Before the mid-1990s, most scientific research journals were only available on paper, however over the years, many have moved their content online. Yet, in 2013, it was estimated that 90% of online content was expected to be behind a paywall over the ensuing three years. (The Drum, 2013) Does this suggest a want, or need, for open access?
How can Open Access Help?
In the current day and age, it is easy to find online blogging sites to publish your own work such as Tumblr, WordPress, or even YouTube. By doing so, you are offering maximum availability for others to see and review it. However, this does not only benefit the reader; by publishing such works online the author themselves also benefit by not having to pay journals a publishing fee to feature their work.
In terms of readership, educators and students often need access to research journals and articles for their studies; not everyone has the money to access every journal behind a paywall, however. Even universities themselves will have to divert an average of $150,000 from their library budget to establish institutional repositories. (Martin Frank, 2013)
Self-produced, Piktochart. Data from The New England Journal of Medicine
Downsides of Open Access?
While yes, it could be said to be morally and ethically grounded for open access to be pushed, it must also be viewed from a business perspective. It’s not a simple case of uploading something on the Internet; to make code open access, you must also document how to use it, and how it works.
In order to publish these journals, it has to be paid for. And while a lot of scientific research is paid for by taxpayers, the journals that the research is displayed in are not. Often, a scientist can pay for one of their papers to be open access when they are published in a journal that is not freely available immediately. However, they must then consider the limitations of using grant money on publication fees.
In conclusion, while there are many benefits to push for open access, the costs and methods of it must be considered. Ultimately, however, I do feel that the benefits outweigh the (literal) costs, as others can then access the content and utilise it for research and educational purposes.
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“Benefits of Open Access Journals”, PLOS
Eveleth, Rose, “Free Access to Science Research Doesn’t Benefit Everyone”, (2014), The Atlantic
Frank, Martin, “Open but Not Free – Publishing in the 21st Century”, (2013), The New England Journal of Medicine
Lepitak, Stephen, “90% of online content to be held behind paywalls in three years media company survey suggests”, (2011) The Drum
Piled Higher and Deeper (PHD Comics), “Open Access Explained!”, (2012), YouTube
Wiley, “Understanding Open Access”, (2014), YouTube