Topic 5: The Advantages and Disadvantages of Open Access

One of the most frustrating things when it comes to essays, as a student, is when you cannot gain full access to a journal article.

Recently, I attempted an inter-library loan, waiting over a month to discover that my request had been cancelled – other libraries were unable to share the article due to copyright. My deadline by this time had passed, so I could neither read nor cite this academic’s work.

Open Access strives to make academic work freely available online without technological, financial or legal barriers.[1]  Barriers, which in this case, stopped me from reading material, even with access to a university library.  Jack Andraka, a teenage cancer researcher who created a revolutionary diagnostic test for pancreatic, ovarian and lung cancer, stresses the importance of open access not only to the medical field but worldwide knowledge and innovation.  He argues that open access to scientific journals is important because then an important financial barrier to knowledge would be removed. Ideas could be exchanged more easily and rapidly and hopefully barriers due to age, gender or race could be eliminated’[2]

So whilst this slideshare I’ve created covers the advantages (and disadvantages) of content being made open access by content producers, it is also worth considering the advantages for the readers, who can cite, develop and build on these published ideas – a process made quicker and easier by open access.  At the core of education is the sharing of knowledge,  and open access reflects this ethic by reducing and removing unnecessary restrictions.





(Other sources have been cited within the slideshare)



11 thoughts on “Topic 5: The Advantages and Disadvantages of Open Access

  1. paszcza says:

    Great job on introducing the Open Access using a personal story – this always helps to keep reader’s attention. More than that, congratulations on finding some well established arguments opposing the Open Access, they are interesting to read.

    I am curious: after reading about the Open Access, what are your personal views on the issue?

    • Sarah Kyle says:

      Hi Bartosz,

      Thanks for your comment! As a reader, I feel Open Access is extremely beneficial to the academic world. Closed or restricted access seems to benefit academics and institutions very little, with only publishers seemingly gaining from it.

      Whilst many people oppose Open Access because it disregards the ‘established’ status journals, and many feel threatened at how ‘open’ it is, I feel it is better to share knowledge than restrict it.

      I tried to include the example of Jack Andraka to highlight this – his initial attempts to research a new diagnostic test for cancer were badly hindered due to the ‘closed’ nature of medical journals. Similarly, many people didn’t take him seriously due to his age. Yet he made an incredible medical discovery which now helps many people. I feel Open Access would assist in future medical discoveries across the globe.

      With the internet as an incredible tool for discovery and innovation, Open Access is not only right but potentially inevitable – the Hefce, in particular, are set to implement the idea that to receive funding, research has to be made Open Access.

  2. maybulman says:

    Hi Sarah,

    I enjoyed this blog post. The video at the end provides a well-rounded discussion for the topic, and it was interesting to hear from the video how Open Access is beneficial not only for the readers (such as students), but also for the authors of the academic research, giving their work more exposure and chance of having an impact on a wider scale.

    This has made me think more about what I’ve been focussing on this week, which is Open Access of online press. While newspapers were initially willing to publish their content for free online, due to the steep decline in print journalism and for various other reasons, many of them are now creating paywalls between readers and their articles.

    Of course, free access to the press is great, allowing anyone with Internet access to remain informed and up-to-date with what is going on in the world, but we must not forget that creating quality journalism doesn’t come free.

    I suppose both academics and journalists WANT their work to be read, but how can it be ensured that- if the content they produce is freely available on the Web- these people are getting a steady income for what they do?

    • Sarah Kyle says:

      Hi May,

      Thanks for your comment!

      Journalism is a difficult area – I admire you covering it this week. I think what’s hard about it is that with smartphones, anyone can be a journalist nowadays. I don’t mean this in terms of having proper qualifications, but that anyone can capture a moment which may be newsworthy.

      Similarly, the audience for journalism is changing. A lot of people don’t use websites to get their information: ‘In Britain, the number of people getting their news from social media is rising. A poll for Havas, quoted in the Press Gazette in October, found 27 per cent of people used Facebook as a source for local news, and 11 per cent used Twitter’. [1] I don’t think paywalls, or subscriptions, are something a younger generation would be willing to abide to if they can get the news, for free, on their social media accounts (something they probably visit more anyway). Perhaps journalists will be paid by how many hits or ‘clicks’ their article receives in the future – not a method I’d support but a possibility.

      However, as I’ve noticed by following the elections, there will always be certain sites that people check for accurate news, since social media is not the most reliable source at times. For me this is BBC, Sky News, or the Independent, all of which are free online and open access. Whilst the BBC is funded anyway by the taxpayer, I feel these organisations would only remain influential and powerful with their ‘Open Access’ approach, and that journalists will still want to have their names and work associated with these companies.


  3. tatianasieff says:

    Hi Sarah,

    This was a great post to read, and was summarised efficiently and neatly in the Slideshare. I really enjoyed going through it. ☺

    After reading your replies to comments above, I see that you are for the notion of open access. I am too. I feel that restricted access will decrease the number of citations that an academic would receive, thus making their work far more visible. Do you believe that the value of academic work would be relegated if access were ever to be fully restricted?

    Also, I too find it extremely irritating when academic journals are restricted when trying to complete a piece of work. Ideally, each and every journal would be feely accessible to the disposal of my peers and I. However, are we being selfish in thinking this way? How else could content producers earn an income if all their work was free?

    • Sarah Kyle says:

      Hi Tat,

      Thanks for your comment! 🙂

      I feel that with the rise of open access articles, many people will simply begin to ignore the journals with restricted access, or place pressure on the authors to ‘self archive’ their work in order to gain access to it.

      With regards to your second question, I genuinely feel that researchers don’t do research for the sole purpose of money. And similarly, I feel that many researchers shouldn’t hide their findings from the people who funded their research – it would be like refusing to tell your family what grades you got, even if they are the ones supporting you financially through school or university. Arguably, it’s selfish to have restricted access, not to ask for open access.

  4. Namat says:

    Hi Sara, I think this is a really good blog post. I honestly enjoyed reading it, since it has real life examples which did persuade me to read the whole blog post. The slideshare provides a well-rounded discussion for open access online.

    You have given some personal background information about you attempting an inter-library loan and you weren’t even able to get access to it even after a month, this certainly made me think and something should be done about it, I too have experienced this problem on my first year of university so I truly understand your pain.

    Of course majority of scientists and journalist would want their content and sometimes ideas to be spread a read by the people around the globe, so can you think of a way that a producer can publish their open access contents without having to pay huge amounts of money for publishers?

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