Should content creators release their work for free?

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!

(Credits: openaccessbutton.org)

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!

Pros

Increased readership

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.

(Credits: contactus.com)

Cons

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.

(Credits: masternewmedia.org)

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.

(440 words)

Cheers,

Jun Wai

References

Edanzediting.com, (2013). Advantages and Disadvantages of Open Access | edanz editing global. [online] Available at: http://www.edanzediting.com/blog/advantages_and_disadvantages_open_access#.VkLmAhwrKUk [Accessed 11 Nov. 2015].

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].

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11 comments

  1. Pang Luna · November 12, 2015

    Hi Jun Wai!

    Just like you, I too feel that there are no right or wrong because it depends on the motivations of the author. As mentioned in my blog post, because there are so many grey areas to the discussion of open access, I feel that it is best to adopt a libre open access where information is free and available to the public to a large extent, but additional usage/services will only be granted through payment. The research process is often costly as well as the publication cost, which is why I think it is only fair to pay for additional services to justify the time and effort being put into the information provided.

    Overall, it was a very interesting read and I’m glad that we share many similar thoughts on open access. Hope to see more from you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • junewhyyy · November 12, 2015

      Hi Luna,

      Thanks for taking the time to read my post about free contents online and yes, there is no right or wrong in this situation. I agree on your point about libre open access and I feel it can work positively as both sides win. People who wants free content gets free content, people who want paid content gets paid content.

      From what I know some researchers get money from the government to conduct their researched while some do it out of their own pocket. Obviously it will be justified for those who pay for their own research to get paid for their hard work!

      It was nice having this discussion with you and I hope it clarifies your doubts!

      Cheers,
      Jun Wai

      Like

  2. Clinton Cheong · November 12, 2015

    How’s it going Mr JuneWhy

    You have mentioned in your blog post that one of the cons in open access would be the deficit of quality in the content posted.

    This can be seen further from an article that I found where an reporter published hundreds of open access journals with fake papers. At the end of the day, we are all students and deriving useful information through online platform is crucial in our learning process. So how do you think we students can tackle this problem? It would surely be disastrous when one spend time and effort in learning something that is wrong online. What do you think are the ways in which we can successfully overcome the problem of the lack in quality of research papers?
    Looking forward to your reply! And as always good read!

    Link to article: http://retractionwatch.com/2013/10/03/science-reporter-spoofs-hundreds-of-journals-with-a-fake-paper/

    Liked by 1 person

    • junewhyyy · November 12, 2015

      Good day Mr Cheong,

      First and foremost thanks for taking the time to read my blog and I am doing fine, thank you!

      Fake papers and journals is a major issue as students depend on those for their academics and obviously this is not the way to go! I would suggest a two-way check where both students and Open Access do their due diligence in checking the quality of the online document. This will help eliminate time wasting as well as the effort which the student put in for the article.

      Quality of journals and articles is usually checked by the author himself(supposedly if he have chose to publish it himself) and there will bound to be errors. I will suggest Open Access to help in this department by filtering the papers and rejecting those that are not up to standard. This will be the best bet against such issues and I hope that there will not be anymore fake online articles in the time to come!

      I hope my two cents’ worth have triggered your thinking for this topic!

      Cheers,
      Jun Wai

      Liked by 1 person

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  5. Nicole Low · November 12, 2015

    Hi Jun Wai!

    Thank you for the insightful post, I’ve gotten great takeaways from them!

    I have mentioned in my own post that content producers might not feel motivated to publish more content as they might feel that they’re not rightfully compensated for their work. Your post has mentioned that there’s a huge cost behind producing content since they do not have any publication company to back them up, something I did not know before. Therefore I would agree with the cost plus the not being paid for their work is a huge drawback that would encourage them to impose a fee on their content and might also lead to long-term sustainability and quality issues.

    You have mentioned you’d pay for crucial information for your dissertation. I would definitely do the same. However, after reading Jamie’s post, she mentioned that people paid for many content, only waste many of them as they can only read the brief abstracts of each material. That is really such a waste of money! I think that more if a certain piece of information is needed to be paid for, more information should be released of the material in order for people to make the right purchases. What are your thoughts on this?

    I mentioned in my post that whether a fee should be imposed or not should depend on the material’s purpose. Would you agree?

    Let me know your thoughts, thank you once again! 🙂

    Cheers.

    Like

    • junewhyyy · November 12, 2015

      Hello Nicole,

      Thanks for taking the time to read my post and I am really glad you learned something from it!

      Totally agree when you mentioned about them not getting paid for their hard work in your blog! Well, that’s the sacrifice that those authors have to go through in order for them to spread knowledge to the world for FREE. I personally have nothing against those that don’t make their articles free as they may come from a different context or may have a different intention for the use of their content.

      After reading jamie’s blog, I have realized that some paid articles do not provide previews for consumers and this can be really risky as the content may not be what they are looking for thus, wasting money and effort! I believe publishers should provide better information and more previews for consumers to view as it will definitely help them decide whether this is the article that they need. Nobody wants to buy anything without know what’s inside right?

      A fee should be imposed or not really depends on the author as well as the content that he is publishing. If it is something that he feels is of high-value and informative, he may put a fee on it. But I understand that even though some articles may be very informative and valuable, it can also be published for free! Ultimately it still boils down to the intentions of the author and not really the material’s content and purpose.

      I hope I have answered your queries and thanks for having this discussion with me!

      Cheers,
      Jun Wai

      Liked by 1 person

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