Open Access: The Good And The Bad

Let’s start by exploring what open access actually is. The video below elaborates on open and closed access:

After watching this video, I believe that universities and colleges around the globe should provide access to academic journals not only for its students but for the general public.

Access to free online content/material could be beneficial to its users and even non-users e.g. if first-aid instructions for various types of injuries were published, not only the reader, but also people who aren’t aware about it will be positively affected by it. But sadly people often pay attention only on the effects to consumers and our society, disregarding how these free materials can influence the content producers.

Making contents/materials available online for free doesn’t benefit the producer, since they spend a huge amount of time and effort on creating something others will benefit from. Surely they should get something in return. By making their product become easily and freely accessible, producers “seemingly” give away the opportunity to make money and sometimes lose money since they have to pay for publishing costs.

Can you imagine what it would be like if you had to pay for all the online contents you use? We use the online content all the time without realising who created it – when or how? There are a number of advantages and disadvantages to a content producer/author of making their materials freely available online for the public.

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The image above pinpoints a few benefits of open access. Open access provides the opportunity to interchange ideas all around the globe, specifically scientists who require exposure. It enables easier communication between researchers globally, fostering further development and innovation.

However, making content available free online may lack in quality control – the issue that is usually brought up in discussions on open access is the predatory open access’. This describes unethical publishers, who lack acceptable peer-review. By paying their publication fee, their article will be published regardless of its scientific value and sometimes it doesn’t help the public.

I have strong views on open accesses publishing but that come from my own strong views on open data, I find it difficult to understand people who want to keep their data closed when it is being funded by public domain resources for the good of everybody.

References:

Rita Pickler, Jane Noyes, Lin Perry, et al., Authors and readers beware the dark side of Open Access, Journal of Advanced Nursing [29.04.2015]

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5rVH1KGBCY

Image: https://aoasg.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/cc-by_logo.png

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10 thoughts on “Open Access: The Good And The Bad

  1. Hi Namat,

    Your blog gives a strong argument in favour of Open Access as well as describing in detail the benefits we would obtain by having free online content/ material.

    I agree with what you have said and believe that authors should share their research where possible in order to ensure that others can benefit from it in the best way possible. However, I think it is important to also consider the consequences that having free access online can have on other resources. If all articles/ journals were available online then it is clear that society would become solely reliant on accessing this content online. A BBC article discusses the decrease in book sales, falling by 6.8% in 2013. This has also led to an increase in book prices with the average selling price of a book rising 21p to £7.70. These statistics show the existent problems concerning the traditional research domain. As a result with all research available online, it would be the book publishers, bookshops and libraries that get affected.
    Do you think that it is worth the risk of endangering traditional resources by making all research online free?

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  2. Hi Namat Sadiqee,

    I really enjoy reading your blog that has some valid points on the advantages and disadvantages of the Open Access (OA), you had some really informative images and videos to explain your points, that was really good.

    I do agree with you to some extend that OA certainly attract more audience to their contents even if it has a poor quality and it’s really good for “ONLY” at certain extent for example First Aid as you mentioned, but I am an academic student and from my personal experience I found that reliable source and quality research content is the most valuable criteria you use. Do you agree with this point?

    I also found OA like wikipedia.org has tonnes of information but you cannot really reference that information to your essay, as it always raises a question mark, this is because it’s FREE therefore anyone and everyone can edit this information however it’s a good starting point of research but not a reliable reference.

    I look forward to your reply.

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  5. Namat,

    I found your post really insightful and interesting, and particularly found your point about the fact that much of the research is funded by public money. In the course of completing my Dissertation I needed to research a huge number of Medical Journals on sites such as the BMJ and The Lancet, to read each one of these they wanted about £30, so in the end I borrowed the Login of a friends Mum who is a Doctor. A bit of online research found that she was paying several hundred pounds a year for this, but when I read the Articles many of them were funded by Government related boards, so essentially in the long run funded by us. I find it difficult to justify essentially paying twice for access to these articles.

    The link below was an article I found after reading your post and doing some further research. I was interested to find out how much Academics make from the publishing of Research online. It seems that in general the whole situation is pretty secretive, but peer reviewing which is a core part of the process is done for free. Most interestingly, which I hadn’t actually really considered before was that Academics actually pay to publish their work on the online journals that we access, so not only are they paying to publish, we’re also paying to access, so it would appear that the only people truly benefitting financially from these articles are the companies publishing them.

    http://www.nature.com/news/open-access-the-true-cost-of-science-publishing-1.12676

    It would be interesting to know what your thoughts are on the double whammy of Academics paying to publish and us paying to access. Obviously I understand that there are admin costs etc, but I feel like advertising and university memberships could be a fairer way to provide the financial funds needed to maintain this service.

    Olivia

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  9. Hi Namat,
    I enjoyed reading your blog post for this week and especially like that you highlighted the importance of open access to materials which could provide immediate assistance to those in need. Often hospitals and doctors do need to work within a framework, especially in the NHS, where the treatments available are limited, and access to certain treatments would only be available through a private healthcare outlet, especially when the drug or procedure has been very recently devised. The ethics of private vs public healthcare aside, do you think there should be special considerations made for papers in the healthcare industry, especially when their application can affect the wellbeing of individuals worldwide?

    I also liked that you made the reader consider all the sources we do have access to today, that if taken away from us would greatly change the way we use the web. One of those things being news subscriptions, where information that can usually be found on the BBC website or elsewhere is charged for from other companies. I personally think that this business model is unsustainable, but in the research field it could pose other problems, such as separate individuals working on what they believe to be a new topic, or breaking new ground, when in fact a very similar paper may exist that is not open access, and therefore may have been passed over. What are your thoughts on this?

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