Open Access literature is digital, online, free-of-charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.
This translates to online material being shared worldwide without expectation of payment and redistribution is allowed. It’s hard to imagine a digital world without OA (Open Access) today. Most search engines lead you to free scholarly materials under a second.
Do you access free online material?
I’m sure you do, because this very module is dependent on OA materials for our readings.
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In an academic setting, tertiary education calls for research. We can’t afford pop-up paywalls on every journal. It is worst if we can’t find or fully utilize the information in restricted-access materials after purchase. (Hall, 2014)
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We ought to be thankful to content producers going against the popular notion that ‘nothing is free’. How will OA affect them?
- Good Reputation from Viral Distribution
Through a citation flow, when OA materials are repeatedly used in research, the content or the producer’s name may go viral. This is ideal for content producers, as it shows that their work is valued and trusted. These content producers will be deemed as ‘viral producers’ and may be headhunted by companies.
- Accelerated Learning
Needless to say, OA means that readers can reuse or redistribute content, integrating them into better research. This perfectly displays how knowledge isn’t static and can evolve from producer to producer. In the contemporary academic world, this mindset of having a broader research base can foster critical learning skills where people support or question different theories.
- Under-credited Efforts
Ideally, free content circulated should be credited. What if it isn’t? Ethical issues such as plagiarism arise. It can be infuriating when their efforts are not unrecognised, becoming a cultural issue. (Ratcliffe, 2014)
- Quantity over Quality
Publishing costs are costly. With OA, publishers may incentivize content producers to write more in an attempt to cover the costs. Under these circumstances, quality in the research may be compromised.
Example: Blogilates, Casey Ho
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Previously, she provided free fitness videos on Youtube. Today, she made a career out of the popularity of the videos, selling fitness content and merchandises. If not for OA, she may not be viral and may not have started her business.
The significant drawback for content producers providing OA is that their work is under-valued in the financial aspect. However, many intrinsic benefits can over-compensate this ‘monetary value’ of their work. They may see the satisfaction from pursuing their passion or gaining recognition worldwide as an achievement.
Most of all, I believe the most redeeming element of OA is the sharing efficiency that encourages broader and seamless learning on the Internet.
Hall, Martin. (18 February 2014). Why open access should be a key issue for university leaders. The Guardian. Retrieved on 11 November 2015, from http://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/blog/2014/feb/18/open-access-key-issue-university-leaders
Ratcliffe, Rebecca. (27 October 2014). What’s the biggest challenge facing open access? The Guardian. Retrieved on 11 November 2015, from http://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/blog/2014/oct/27/-sp-whats-the-biggest-challenge-facing-open-access
Spark Europe. Open Access: Benefits of Open Access. Retrieved on 11 November 2015, from http://sparceurope.org/open-access/benefits-of-open-access/
Suber, Peter. (21 June 2004). Open Access Overview: Focusing on open access to peer-reviewed research articles and their preprints. Earlham College. Retrieved on 11 November 2015, from http://legacy.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/overview.htm
Wiley, D., Green, C. & Soares, L. (February 2012). Dramatically Bringing Down The Cost Of Education. Educause: Center for American Progress. Retrieved on 11 November 2015, from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED535639.pdf