Our world as we know it is becoming more digitalised, where access to any information we may need is available almost everywhere online. As a result, much of the online content we come across is of open access which Suber (2015) describes as ‘digital, online, free of charge and free from almost all copyright and licensing restrictions’.
What are content producers?
Content producers typically oversee the making of content for websites and other online properties. There are many websites such as Wikipedia and YouTube which rely on user-generated content but also allows us to access it free of charge. However, open access affects content producers and could discourage people from publishing their work due to high publication costs.
Open access in Education
This short 3 minute video will briefly explain the idea behind open access and how it is beneficial for today’s society.
Figure 1. Understanding Open Access (via YouTube)
How likely is it that you would pay to access academic literature online? As a student, I can certainly say that I am put off when I come across a journal I want to access yet I am prevented from doing so because of a price to pay. And even if I do purchase an article, I would not know of its relevance until after I pay!
Yet, this is not always the case and for the most part during my time at university, I have encountered various articles, publications and journals which are free for me to use. I have created a video below to highlight key advantages and disadvantages of open access.
Figure 2. Advantages & Disadvantages of Open Access (self-produced via Biteable)
Yet, open access goes further than just academic literature. It can also include the music and film industry.
Figure 3. (Self-produced via Canva)
According to TheDrum (2013), ‘90% of online content is expected to be behind paywalls in the next three years.’ I have come across this article which argues for and against the use of paywalls towards content producers. However, whilst I can appreciate this, I feel as though paywalls are of no help to the digital divide. This is because I believe that open access material should boost the knowledge economy and help increase innovation.
Proponents of open access believe that it has the potential to increase the speed of scientific discovery, encourage innovation and enrich educational experiences such as using MOOCS. For example, I recently had the opportunity to be involved with a MOOC on FutureLearn called ‘Learning in the Network Age’ which is free to sign up for which is not just available to University of Southampton Students but to a wider global audience. It just shows how open access is ‘central to the continuing development of learning and development’ (Hall, 2014).
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Geib, A. (2013). Advantages and Disadvantages of Open Access | Edanz Editing. [online] Edanzediting.com. Available at: https://www.edanzediting.com/blogs/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-open-access [Accessed 6 May 2017].
Hall, M. (2014). Why open access should be a key issue for university leaders. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/blog/2014/feb/18/open-access-key-issue-university-leaders?CMP=twt_gu [Accessed 5 May 2017].
Suber, P. (2015). Peter Suber, Open Access Overview (definition, introduction). [online] Legacy.earlham.edu. Available at: http://legacy.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/overview.htm [Accessed 7 May 2017].
Tue.nl. (2017). Advantages and disadvantages of Open Access. [online] Available at: https://www.tue.nl/en/university/library/education-research-support/scientific-publishing/open-access-coach/basic-concepts-and-background/pros-and-cons-of-open-access/ [Accessed 7 May 2017]