Source: Open Knowledge Blog
One of the most important properties is its openness
– Tim Berners-Lee
These are the exact words coming from the inventor of the Internet himself at the first Knowledge Conference where he also made an impassioned request to keep the internet open, free and accessible. The concept behind the World Wide Web was to share knowledge and embrace the cultural differences in the world. (The National, 2014)
However, why do I often find resources like e-books, research papers and news article to be behind paywalls? According to a survey conducted by Simon-Kucher & Partners, 90% of online content will be held behind paywalls in the next 3 years! (Lepitak, S., 2013)
So what kind of impact can open access make on us?
let’s look at it in 3 different standpoints:
Students will get to enjoy the benefits of reduced education costs as they have access to open education resources (OER) for free or at a low cost. Their quality of learning will also be improved when information become more abundant and discoverable online due to wider circulation.
Companies will have broad access to recent scientific research which builds on their knowledge to provide an economic boost and not to mention libraries will become more relevant in the digital world.
Authors can easily publish their work online and do not have to worry about additional and complicated administration procedures. However, open access journals do not yet have the same established reputation as traditional journals and authors usually have to incur publication fees to allow their work to be free to end users. Some even argue that the open access model will cause a lack of quality control. Authors have to generate more articles to cover costs when a large portion of their revenue comes from publication fees and that will have a negative impact on the overall quality of their work. Then again, open access give scientists in developing countries the opportunity to participate in international research communities, and discounted or waived publication fees for papers from low-income countries.
Keeping these advantages and disadvantages of open access in mind, I wonder what the right choice is. Should we make resources free? Well, that would be the best for us students! But how do the authors get compensated for their work? Also, having so many resources to choose from how can we determine if the information is credible and meeting the standards of the specific discipline?
Stephen Lepitak. 2013. 90% of online content to be held behind paywalls in three years media company survey suggests. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.thedrum.com/news/2013/04/12/90-online-content-be-held-behind-paywalls-three-years-media-company-survey-suggests. [Accessed 11 November 15].
David Wiley, Cable Green, and Louis Soares. 2012. Dramatically Bringing Down the Cost of Education with OER. [ONLINE] Available at: http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED535639.pdf. [Accessed 11 November 15].
Adam Geib. 2013. Advantages and Disadvantages of Open Access. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.edanzediting.com/blog/advantages_and_disadvantages_open_access#.VkKRRLcrKM-. [Accessed 11 November 15].
Open Access. 2015. Pros and cons. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.openaccess.nl/en/what-is-open-access/pros-and-cons. [Accessed 11 November 15].
Ramola Talwar Badam. 2014. World Wide Web inventor makes plea to keep internet free and open. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.thenational.ae/uae/technology/world-wide-web-inventor-makes-plea-to-keep-internet-free-and-open. [Accessed 11 November 15].