Let’s Be Open About…

Open Access literature is digital, online, free-of-charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.

Peter Suber

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.


(Picture Source: New York Times)

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)

(Video Source: HowToRuleTheWeb)

We ought to be thankful to content producers going against the popular notion that ‘nothing is free’. How will OA affect them?


  1. 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.

  1. 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.


  1. 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)

  1. 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


(Picture Source: Ogorgeous.com)


(Picture Source: Hot Body Book)

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.

(438 words)


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


12 thoughts on “Let’s Be Open About…

  1. Hi Crystal! I cannot picture a world without Open Access, imagine us students paying for all the articles we have to read while writing our essays and dissertation! Think about the cost we have to incur! I concur with you on how authors providing papers via Open Access has their work under-valued in the financial aspect, not only are they not receiving payment for providing information to the public, they are given limited funding, or worse, these funding have to come from their own pockets. Also, I’ve never really thought about how intrinsic benefits can over-compensate the monetary value. Like how author’s paper are able to go viral through citations and good reputation!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Crystal,

    I liked how you intrigued me with all your interesting videos and pictures and it helped made my understanding of your post better.

    Firstly, Open Access is the obviously the way to go for this digital age and being students like us, we can’t afford to pay for journals every single time! I am really glad that content creators are trying to fight against paid contents and paving the way for free contents!

    However your point on ‘Accelerated Learning’ is really subjective and situation-based. I believe that even without OA, people can reuse and share content as per normal just that they need to pay for it. Sometimes, having OA will not necessary increase our speed of learning as some of the content may be irrelevant or of low quality. Of course it can reach a broader audience due to the fact it’s free, but I believe Closed Access(CA) can be as equally good as OA. (Check out my blog if you want to know what is CA!)

    Another point which I query is issue of under-crediting authors for their work. To be honest, even paid content are in danger of plagiarism not to mention free contents. The efforts of the authors will definitely be forgotten and it will be quite demoralizing for them to carry on creating new content. I believe OA will help authors protect their rights for their content and hopefully such issues will disappear in the years to come.

    Lastly, I totally agree on your point regarding free content providing intrinsic benefits such as recognition worldwide and sometimes it will tend to ‘overpower’ the monetary value of their work.

    Those points that I mentioned are based on my own thinking and opinions, please feel free to correct me and tell me what you think! I really learned a lot from your post and hope to read more great stuff from you!

    Jun Wai


    1. Hi Jun Wai,

      Thanks for taking time to read my blog!

      I do agree with you now, that CA doesn’t necessarily impede learning. I may have forgotten to add on that, OA accelerates learning when payment is not an issue. For developing countries, some educational institutions or students may not be able to access CA materials as quickly as developed countries (due to limited fundings), thus impeding learning.

      Thanks for your thought about the plagiarism though! It really hit me that there is going to be the unethical issue of copying whether the content is free or paid. However, with OA allowing ‘reusing, revising, remixing and redistributing’, they are more likely to be under-credited as readers are given this right.

      I hope my clarification helped. It was nice to know of your thoughts too! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Crystal,

    Great Video in light of online content producer. Honestly, it’s rather beneficial for my learning process. I will definitely include content producer as one of my points in my impending summary post. Also, I realized you stated that it is disadvantageous for content producers to have their work distributed freely in public because they will suffer severely with regards to financial deficiency.

    That brings me to my first question, if content producers, like Vicki (featured in the first video you posted) are producing free content/work for the public, where do they get their main source of income? How do they even earn a living?

    Great point in presenting “Good Reputation from Viral Distribution” as one of the advantages for content producers. However, do you think the materials distributed in public are wholly reliable? What if the materials published were false but perceived as factual by people, and the materials went viral? Upon realising how deceptive the contents were, do you think people will be unhappy with the producers? Consequently, resulting in bad reputation?

    I hope you do find my comments constructive and good luck with your reflective summary (:

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Ryan,

      I believe I learned a fair bit from your informative post as well!

      For content producers providing free content and forking out the publishing costs, I believe their main source of income would not from that profession. Perhaps, they are funded by a grant of an institution, or have other jobs to cover their costs. I mean, if they truly see content-producing as a worthy investment, they will find ways to fund the publishing costs. Whether or not they see a beneficial reward from this profession, it would have to depend on viewers’ opinions and their capabilities.

      This is my take on content producers, I hope it can help you.

      Also, OA materials may not be wholly reliable, and I believe that we have seen cases where false theories, or false news that become viral. Then comes conflicting theories coming to challenge the former. I believe this is why learning is so interesting today huh? There are always two sides to the coin. Yes readers will be unhappy and definitely tarnish the reputation of these producers. It’s sad, but I feel that this is inevitable, even with closed access materials.

      Your comments really helped me think critically! Thank you and you too 🙂


  4. Hey Crystal!

    Once again great read from you! I personally had a hard time thinking about how to go about writing about open access (OA). However your post has given me the necessary insights.

    I have to agree with you on the point when you mentioned that it’s a “significant drawback for content producers as their work is under-valued”; and the part where you mentioned that the intrinsic benefits eventually outweighs the “monetary value”.

    This is so as most content providers are passionate about their work and the sense of achievement would be more prominent. This would be especially relevant to medical journals found on OA, as the main purpose is to find a cure for an illness or to spread the knowledge of it.


    In addition on the point where content producers would “over” share to cover costs, I think this video, which explains how Wiley can help, cover such costs and keep the content copyrighted.


    (157 Words)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your sweet words, Rachel!

      Your examples really helped me further understand why OA is important in the medical field, and how content producers think about the costs and copyrights issues!


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