The end of the module is finally here and it’s fair to say I have learnt a great deal – more than I could ever have expected.
As the topic explored open access, there was plenty of ground for everyone to cover. I specifically focused on open access and academia, with a little introduction to news media. However, it was great to see other blog’s like Ausaf’s and Carolina discuss open access in the music industry, highlighting Spotify as a noteworthy example. This topic, more so than others, I have been able to engage in discussions that stem on from the topic’s main points. Andrei’s comments on my blog initiated a discussion on whether open access reduces the quality of journals published. This eventually ended up with us discussing the future business model of journals and whether they could apply the Wikipedia model (relying on donations rather than charging). It was interesting to witness the different paths of conversation this topic could took. Below is a video I created to point out some of the discussions I had with others and how this led me to learn some new things, including cementing my position that all journals should be open access and that OA does not just apply to academia.
Not only was I able to learn new things, but reading other people’s blogs has helped me progress my blogging style and push me to incorporate original ideas and multimedia, as shown in the slideshow below.
Feedback throughout the module from the marking sheet and from others’ comments has been very important to me the primary inspiration for my progression. Below is a ‘recipe’ I created, taking on board all the feedback in order to help create even better blogs.
The increasing use of the Internet has led to an influx of digital information. In the academic world of Medicine alone, over two brand new papers are published every minute (Hall, 2014). This, in combination with the decline of print media (Schlesinger and Doyle, 2015) has led to the prediction that 90% of online content would be behind paywalls as of 2016 (Lepitak, 2013). Open access typically refers to the free, instant, online availability of online content with permissions to reuse for free (Piled Higher and Deeper (PHD Comics), 2012).
The increase in scientific work published online and increase in news consumption online has opened the debate over whether open access is good or bad. The infographic below explores these debates:
There are clearly many complexities in assessing the advantages and disadvantages of open access. It is also important to note that it cannot be labelled ‘beneficial in all circumstances’ or not. Ultimately, it is up to the content producer to assess whether the positives outweigh the negatives. One of the most important arguments in favour of open access is the ability to teach those who cannot always receive an adequate education. In particular, initiatives like the Khan Academy and the African Leadership Academy have been able to connect with and educate young people outside of the classroom (Dunn, 2013). As a result, more people have called upon university leaders to turn their attention towards open access (Hall, 2014).
However, a large problem with open access resides with the cost incurred. Whilst online articles are much cheaper than publishing print copies, as demonstrated in Figure 2, there can be large costs for researchers to publish their work in a journal (Truth, 2012). Although open access articles have proven to increase citations (Gargouri et al, 2005), it is wrong to assume all researchers and content producers have large sums of money readily available for publishing.
I believe open access articles should work to be more prevalent in the online community, for the benefit of students, researchers, the less-fortunate and anyone with an interest in a particular field. However, I think it is unacceptable for journals to be charging such large amounts of money to researchers to publish their work. I also argue that the more notable journals should consider open access in order to disprove the theory that open access articles can be of a lower quality.
McCabe, M. and Snyder, C. (2005). Open Access and Academic Journal Quality. The American Economic Review, [online] 95(2), pp.453-458. Available at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4132864 [Accessed 7 May 2017].