How often do you encounter the issue outlined in the above video? In the past, concerns have been raised over increasing amounts of research content becoming exclusively accessible through ‘content paywalls’ (Lepitak, 2013). Today, I feel this fear has come to light, as can be seen with the development of tools such as www.unpaywall.org which trawl the web to identify free versions of pay walled papers (I highly recommend this tool!). More broadly this behaviour can be seen as part of an Open Access (OA) movement.
What is Open Access?
Stemming from the Budapest Open Access Initiative (2002), OA looks to use the web to offer free and unrestricted access to research material. Two strategies have been developed in an attempt to achieve this:
While these approaches focus on academic research material, similar measures are also being taken with other material including teaching resources in the form of Open Educational Resources (OERs) such as KhanAcademy (Wiley, Green, & Soares, 2012). These resources present an opportunity for those with minimal access to education (Dunn, 2013). In both instances the role of the web is essential.
When addressing Open Access it is important to avoid a knee jerk acceptance in the same way I advised when discussing Net Neutrality in my last post. This is evidenced in the advantages and disadvantages below:
Self created graphic created with Canva, loosely based on blog found at: https://www.edanzediting.com/blogs/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-open-access
Fundamentally I feel the benefits of open access far outweigh any drawbacks. However a decision to pursue this approach comes down to the individual content producer. Do they want to increase readership and increase citations (assuming the content is research based)? Almost certainly yes, but do they want to do so at a cost to themselves (gold) or by violating copyright (green)? The risks involved may discourage a content producer from adopting an open access approach.
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Budapest Open Access Initiative. (2002). Budapest Open access Initiative. Retrieved from http://www.soros.org/openaccess/read.shtml
Carr, L. (n.d.). Open Access: the Discipline of Public Knowledge. Retrieved from SlidePlayer: http://slideplayer.com/slide/2396811/
Dunn, D. (2013, April 7). Education Finally Ripe For Radical Innovation By Social Entrepreneurs. Retrieved from Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/skollworldforum/2013/04/07/education-finally-ripe-for-radical-innovation-by-social-entrepreneurs/#7f09d9605081
Edanz. (2013, October 25). Advantages and disadvantages of open access. Retrieved from edanzediting: https://www.edanzediting.com/blogs/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-open-access
Lepitak, S. (2013, April 12). 90% of online content to be held behind paywalls in three years media company survey suggests. Retrieved from TheDrum: http://www.thedrum.com/news/2013/04/12/90-online-content-be-held-behind-paywalls-three-years-media-company-survey-suggests
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. Center for American Progress.