In recent years, accessing academic content online without encountering a virtual gateway in the form of a password, subscription or payment has been harder to come by. Whilst the benefits of open access for users are widely known, the extent to which content producers prosper can still be questioned.
What is Open Access?
Open access is the free, immediate, online availability of research articles, coupled with the rights to use the articles fully in the digital environment (Piled Higher and Deeper, 2012).
The video below details further information of open access and its specifications.
Advantages of Open Access for an Academic Content Producer
In my opinion, the greatest benefit of open access for producers of online academic content is that it enables the results of scholarly research to be disseminated more rapidly which in turn can facilitate a drive towards further research and innovation (Finch, 2012). The greater viewership of the academic material can result in more in-depth discussions around the topic and lead to the content producer gaining a greater understanding of their field of study. However, this is making the assumption that academics will engage in discussions with the content producer rather than just citing the article within their research.
Open access of content will move content producers more towards White and Le Cornu’s ‘resident’ side of the online spectrum (as discussed in Topic 1), due to an increased traceability of their research. As a result, the content producer could gain greater recognition for their work in new geographies, as well increasing the likelihood that their research is used within key policy decisions across the world (Open Access, 2013). However, will the increased accessibility and visibility of content online facilitate a rise in the levels of plagiarism? For further information of the potential link between the number of open access articles and the likelihood of plagiarism, click here.
Disadvantages of open access for an Academic Content Producer
One of the most significant disadvantages is the cost associated with making online content accessible to everyone. Unfortunately, by making articles free, the cost of publishing is often seen to fall onto the content producer which could significantly reduce the number of papers being produced in the long run. Having said this, Suber (2013) explains that only 6% of authors who publish in open access journals pay fees ‘out-of-pocket’ with many institutions associated with the producers covering the costs. However, as a result, in many cases the funds that would have been used to support research projects are redirected to support the author’s publishing fees which could reduce to quality of research in the long run (Manista, 2012).
The pros and cons of open access for content producers has been summarised by the Piktochart below.
Whilst this post has looked into academic content producers, it is important to remember that the advantages of disadvantages of open access will differ for producers of content not related to academia.
– Open Access Header Image: http://www.kitlv.nl/product-category/open-access/
– Open Access Spider Diagram: https://www.griffith.edu.au/library/open-access
Piled Higher and Deeper. (2012). Open Access Explained. [Online Video]. 25 October 2012. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=L5rVH1KGBCY . [Accessed: 2 May 2016].
Finch, J.D. (2012) Accessibility, Sustainability, Excellence: How to Expand Access to Research Publications, Report of the Working Group on Expanding Access to Published Research Findings.
Manista, F. C. (2012) “Open Don ’t Mean Free”: A Reflection on the Potential Advantages and Disadvantages of Publishing Research via Open Access, Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication, Vol. 1 (2).
Open Access. (2013). Pros and Cons of Open Access. Available: http://www.openaccess.nl/en/what-is-open-access/pros-and-cons . Last accessed 7th May 2016.
Suber, P. (2013) Open access: six myths to put to rest, The Guardian.