Reflection on Open Access

I hadn’t taken much thought into open access, except from receiving a few “you do not have access to read this article” pop-ups. After researching further into the subject, I realised that the impact that open access could offer is tremendous. Bridging the gap between students from low income families is something that I think is extremely important and should be a focus within education. My post on the digital divide showed the effect of not having internet access on a child’s grades. This is exactly the same principle for not having access to certain expensive research.

Open Access piktochart infographic Views.png

I commented on Xiaolu’s post this week as she also mentioned the importance of education. Xiaolu’s post focused on the tax payer and the government, both of which i agree have a certain input. However, I question whether in terms of education, that the institute itself should bear some responsbility of providing open access for students. For example, our university pays a subscription fee to certain reputable journals, meaning that all students have access to the articles included in this journal with their login details.

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This week, I also commented on Nicoles post, which factually showed the financial impact that open access can have. I was shocked to see the average yearly price of textbooks that students are expected to buy. This only reinforced my opinion that not having open access widens the divide between those that can afford textbooks and those that can’t. Nicole mentioned however that there is still a need for printed textbooks as people trust them. I question whether there is a way to build a good reputation system for open access. Is there a way that we could ensure their reliability? If this is possible, I think that everything should have open access to ensure better research that reaches wider audiences.

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Open Access: Free for all!

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The infographic that I created above highlights some of the problems that pay to read journal articles have caused. These issues created a need for open access to ensure the spread of information. Every student at the University of Southampton opens and reads online articles in order to support their studies. Without access to these articles, how would our studies suffer? I can only imagine that my own essays would not include the depth and debate that I am able to achieve from reading other peoples research in similar fields. Whilst slightly ironic, without open access I would not have been able to read the articles that I did to write this blog post.

 

“Without openness across global digital networks, it is doubtful that large and complex problems in areas such as economics, climate change and health can be solved” (Hall, M 2014). This statement taken from a Guardian article really emphasizes the need for open access. There are many major issues in our world right now that currently we do not have a solution for. However, due to the scale of these issues there are so many researchers and students right now working to diminish them. Privatising research papers on these topics eliminates the potential for other researchers to find trends and links to their own work. Although quite dramatic, what if the combination of these research papers that we cannot access, actually gives us a cure for cancer as an example? This is also supported in a Youtube video that says that science is about sharing your knowledge and discoveries to benefit others. How is this possible when you are unable to access the journal that these discoveries are included in?

As mentioned in the video above, open access is necessary if we want equal educational opportunities around the globe. Linking back to my post on the digital divide last week, open access is one step that could close the gap between low income families and higher earners. Students will be able to access the exact same information, regardless of their financial situations. This could be a great step to reducing the challenges faced by students that come from low income families that are unable to purchase journal articles.

If perhaps there was a way of ensuring the quality of open access articles in the same way that the most expensive journal is considered to be the best quality, then I strongly believe that the advantages of open access in every sense outweigh the disadvantages.

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References:

Buckfield, H. (2016) Who gets left behind? Available from: https://hannahbuckfield.wordpress.com/2016/11/23/who-gets-left-behind/ [Accessed 8 December 2016].
Czerniewicz, L. (2016) How do students access the resources they need? Survey finds only one in five obtain all resources legally. Impact of Social Sciences. Available from: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2016/04/07/how-do-students-access-the-resources-they-need/ [Accessed 7 December 2016].
Hall, M. (2014) Why open access should be a key issue for university leaders. The Guardian, 18 February. Available from: https://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/blog/2014/feb/18/open-access-key-issue-university-leaders?CMP=twt_gu [Accessed 8 December 2016].
JISC (2009) Research reveals economic case for open access publishing. Available from: https://www.jisc.ac.uk/news/research-reveals-economic-case-for-open-access-publishing-27-jan-2009 [Accessed 7 December 2016].
Lepitak, S. (2013) 90% of online content to be held behind paywalls in three years media company survey suggests. Available from: http://www.thedrum.com/news/2013/04/12/90-online-content-be-held-behind-paywalls-three-years-media-company-survey-suggests [Accessed 7 December 2016].
Open Access. (n.d.) What is open access? Available from: http://www.openaccess.nl/en/what-is-open-access/pros-and-cons [Accessed 7 December 2016].
Piled Higher and Deeper (PHD Comics) (2012) Open access explained! YouTube. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=L5rVH1KGBCY [Accessed 8 December 2016].
SPARC (2007) Why open access? Available from: http://www.righttoresearch.org/learn/whyOA/index.shtml#Students [Accessed 7 December 2016].