Figure 1. Definitions of Open Access and Paywall. Created via Canva.
Figure 2. Reviewing scholarly journal articles. Self-produced via Adobe Photoshop CS5.
Within today’s digital world, Open Access (OA) is being used more frequently as a business model for publishing peer-reviewed journals (Björk et al., 2016). According to Van Noorden (2013), a large proportion of academic journals are behind paywalls, which charge subscription fees for users to access the online material. Many educational institutions have advocated for OA due to the worrying trend of increasing subscription fees (Grove, 2015).
Although readers are not required to pay for OA articles, the authors, employers, or research facility has to cover the time, effort and money they have invested into research (Wexler, 2015). As a result, authors may be discouraged to continue opting for this route, affecting its sustainability. Furthermore, OA models monetise authors to distribute and publish more articles, which can influence the overall quality (Eve, 2013). This is a pivotal aspect to examine as quality OA journals do not yet have the same reputation as established traditional journals (Suber, 2010).
Figure 3. Examples of the disadvantages of OA. Created via PowToon.
Being able to access relevant journal articles is vital for one’s knowledge. For instance, academics can build upon previous studies to expand the research in that particular area (Gadd et al., 2014). Additionally, the global popularity of OA has allowed the academic publisher industry to thrive as researchers can heighten their profile through readership, downloads and citations, which results in enhancing their reputation (Gargouri et al., 2010). This can also lead to increased earnings from academic projects and talks (Crow, 2009).
Figure 4. Examples of OA advantages. Self-produced via Prezi.
Further Advantages of Open Access
Recently, more involvement of reading and commenting on working papers has been a rewarded activity; supporting the EU recommendations for an objective OA policy (Hoorn, 2014). Editors can be the first to read about new studies within their industry and therefore, if institutions reward the best reviewers with incentives, it will encourage more academics to provide quality scholarly journal submissions (Gasparyan et al., 2015).
Figure 5. Librarian’s role and process. Self-produced via Adobe Photoshop CS5.
Furthermore, it is important to note the strengths of libraries in the OA process. Librarians can develop advice services which support editors to: draw up a journal business plan, apply for funding, and assess which income models are compatible with OA (Keller, 2015). Thus, academics who are considering of publishing an OA journal can select their preferred process.
Despite significant sacrifices from the content producers, free access to academic journals has the potential to accelerate progress, which in turn, can lead to a collective benefit. After all, education is “a matter of sharing” (Wiley & Green, 2012).
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Figure 1. Self-produced from Canva.
Figure 2. Self-produced from Adobe Photoshop CS5.
Figure 3. Self-produced from PowToon.
Figure 4. Self-produced from Prezi.
Figure 5. Self-produced from Adobe Photoshop CS5.
Featured Image. Open book. Retrieved from Flickr.