Topic 5

Topic 5: Pros and Cons to open access

the pros and cons of
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First of all, what is open access?

Open access refers to content that is digital, online, free of charge and free from almost all copyright and licensing restrictions (Suber, 2014). What this essentially means is that the content that is created under this ideology will be available to anyone that can access the internet.

Many websites that rely on user-generated content, such as YouTube and DevianArt, have open access in order for everyone to view the content created. Other sites, such as The Times, have begun to hold content behind a ‘pay-wall’ where the content is only available through a one off payment or a subscription basis (Lepitak, 2013). However, within the academic world the story is very different.

Below is an 8 minute YouTube video which describes the argument for open access:

In academics, journals are created by scientists and researchers who are paid by governments or universities with the purpose of discovering something new or even building on what is already available. Without open access both, especially the latter, is incredibly difficult if there is restricted access to other people’s work which might be relevant or even crucial to yours.

Open access does not necessarily mean that all journals end up being free but it would mean that academic work would be more widely available to the public. This could spur a massive jump forward in terms of scientific progress and that momentum would continue since more people could build on previous works. Additionally, lower income countries would be able to teach a lot more whereas before they were, as explained in the YouTube video above, only able to teach what they had access to.

However, open access comes at a cost. For authors wishing to publish their work, even in open access journals, they would need to pay a journal publication charge from their own pockets for it to be readily available to everyone. Additionally, authors would still be hoping their work has ‘impact factor’. Essentially, authors still want their content to be perceived as high-profile and will want it to be published in the most distinguished journals, most of whom do not have open access.

Overall, I think that the advantages of open access far exceed the downsides associated with it. If this were to become commonplace in the academic community, then scientific research would only benefit.


Hall, M., (2014). Why open access should be a key issue for university leaders. Available from: [Accessed on 04/05/2017]

Lepitak, S., (2013). 90% of online content to be held behind paywalls in three years media company survey suggests. Available from: [Accessed on 04/05/2017]

PHD Comics., (2012). Open Access Explained! Available from: [Accessed on 03/05/2017]

Skoll World Forum., (2013). Education Finally Ripe For Radical Innovation By Social Entrepreneurs. Forbes Article available here: [Accessed on 04/05/2017]

Suber, P., (2015). Open Access Overview. Available at: [Accessed on 04/05/2017]

Wiley., (2014). Understanding Open Access. Available from: [Accessed on 05/05/2017]

Wiley, D., Green, C. & Soares, L., (2012). Dramatically Bringing down the Cost of Education with OER: How Open Education Resources Unlock the Door to Free Learning.

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4 thoughts on “Topic 5: Pros and Cons to open access”

  1. Hi Oliver,

    I really liked your blog post, it was very clear and easy to understand the arguments you presented about open access. You mentioned a similar point that I raised in my own blog post about authors being liable to pay a fee to journals, even if they are eventually able to be viewed freely by us, the public.

    There are websites such as ‘wellcome’ which offer funding for researchers to cover the costs of publishing their work as open access:

    However, although initiatives such as these exist, they are not guaranteed and every researcher may not receive funding. Do you feel that it is fair for researchers to potentially have to pay a fee for their work to published by these journals? Alternatively, do you think that journal websites should be responsible for taking on this cost and seeking reimbursement from organizations?




    1. Hi Louise,

      Thank you for your comment on the blog. I have seen websites and open access journals explaining and offering funding so that journals can be freely available to the public and unfortunately I had missed this out from my blog post; see this YouTube video where it explains funding fairly well:

      In terms of fairness on who gets funding and who doesn’t, it will never be fair, since in a fair world open access would allow many scientists and researches to publish their work for everyone to see with the funding they need. So paying a fee would be the reality of open access since everything will have a cost somewhere down the line. Furthermore, with no guarantee of funding, those wanting open access should consider this from the start and be prepared for the worst case, not receiving compensation.

      With this in mind, the journals themselves would behave like any other business and expect payment for the articles regardless of whether it is through funding or through the authors own pocket. So I don’t think this is a cost that journal websites or organisations should be responsible for taking on.

      I hope this helps.


      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Ollie,
        Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to access the youtube link.
        However, addressing your other points, you make a good point that somewhere in the food chain there will be costs incurred. I definitely agree, the ethicality of issues regarding education and costs are always very debatable over who exactly should take on these costs.
        I do believe that government funding should be allocated somehow to pay for this but that’s a very easy blanket statement to make, of course.
        Possibly it would be interesting to hear who all these different actors in the process of open access, i.e. researchers, journal companies etc., think should be responsible, if anyone at all.
        Thanks for your comments.


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