There are two properties of online content in the digital web, Paid Access and Open Access. Like their names, Paid Access represents online content that are only available for users who have paid for it and Open Access represents online content that are able to be viewed for free to all users (Editage, 2015). This post is focused on Open Access’ pros and cons.
Video taken Open Access Explained! from via Youtube
Open Access has been a hot debate in this era of digital web (theguardian.com, 2012). Especially, a lot of end-users have been demanding academic journals to be available for free to anyone, like in the video above. However, the problem doesn’t revolve only around end-users, there are many factors in this case, such as, publishers and authors.
The benefits of Open Access to end-users are prominent; things being free will always be a good profit for users. Open Access allows researchers to share their findings online and improve each other (sparcopen.org). Most of researchers’ complaints of Paid Access have been about how the paid content was not the one they were searching and could not get a refund. With Open Access, researches do not need to pay for works until they find the one that they need.
For publishers and authors, however, Open Access possesses more disadvantages than benefits. 12% of authors have to pay out of their own pockets for their articles to be published, others have to find funders (theguardian.com, 2013). Publishers have to pay to publish those articles for users to see. Of course publishers and authors do get benefits, for example, getting more recognition and citations for their works, but the costs of getting their works online may outweigh those benefits (edanzediting.com, 2013).
Infographic created by Maureen Harend, by piktochart, references from edanzediting.com and earlham.edu
A good way of solving this problem is to make some content free to access, while others still need to be paid first. An example is Directory of Open Access Journal (DOAJ). The site, as of now, has two-third of its content free to access. Unfortunately, this solution is also difficult to implement. As evident in the linked journal, there is barely any parameters to determine which articles should be released for free and which should not.
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Anyangwe, E., Freedman, E., 2012. Open access in research: catch up on the debate. theguardian.com
Directory of Open Access Journal, 2016. doaj.org
Edanzediting, 2013. Advantages and Disadvantages of Open Access. edanzediting.com
Editage Insights, 2015. What are the differences between open access and standard subscription-based publication? editage.com
Sparcopen, 2016. sparcopen.org
Suber, P., 2013. Open access: six myths to put to rest. theguardian.com