Imagine doing your final year dissertation and you found a very informative journal but the only way of accessing it is by paying a price. What will you do? For me, I will definitely sacrifice my money to achieve better grades. But is there a better way towards this issue?
One answer is Open Access!
Open Access allows people to have access to free research articles and at the same time giving them the rights to use these articles fully in the digital environment. Crucial information are made available to a worldwide audience at virtually no marginal cost but there are still concerns which authors contemplate before making their decision.
There are obviously differences between Closed Access and Open Access, let’s see the pros and cons for publishing free online content!
The formula is simple, free content = more readers. Free content will help open their research to a wider audience, allowing more exposure for their work. In this digital age where tons and tons of articles are published online everyday, having content that is free will definitely be advantageous for the author. More people will cite the author, benefiting himself as well as the readers.
Allowing developing countries the equal chance of research opportunities
Not many people can afford paying for content online and with it being free, researchers in poorer countries can have the chance to access the content and contribute to the research community as well. Not only researchers, financially-strapped students can have a fair chance against well-off students in their academics as content need not be purchased.
Cost of publication
There is a hefty price tag for publishing content online as there is no backing from a publication firm. The content creators have to absorb the costs and this may cause them to be discouraged and reluctant.
Quality & Sustainability issues
Since there is no backing from the publication firm, the quality of the content may be compromised. There may be errors and flaws which the authors are unable to spot, eventuating a low quality article. With little to no funding of their content, there will bound to be sustainability issues for producing new contents.
So, free or not free?
Obviously everybody wants free content but the truth is, not all online contents are free and accessible. Even with Open Access, not all authors are willing to make their contents free. Some content creators support free content but at the same time wants their content to be “high-profiled”, inducing controversies to arise. Personally I feel that there is no right or wrong, as ultimately, it all boils down to the author’s intention and approach for the content.
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Sparc.arl.org, (2015). Open Access | SPARC. [online] Available at: http://www.sparc.arl.org/issues/open-access [Accessed 11 Nov. 2015].
the Guardian, (2012). Open access: why academic publishers still add value. [online] Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/blog/2012/nov/22/open-access-research-publishing-academics?fb=optOut [Accessed 11 Nov. 2015].
YouTube, (2015). Go Open Access – I. What is Open Access?. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aN1JcfRc6Xs [Accessed 11 Nov. 2015].
YouTube, (2015). Open Access Explained!. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=L5rVH1KGBCY [Accessed 11 Nov. 2015].