Removing Barriers to Access to Open Up Information

Over the years, many researchers have found themselves in the strange predicament of having published in these journals but unable to access their own articles. Others find themselves in the multistep, tedious access process, through an organization or university network subscription. These obstacles have long term ramifications for university libraries and scholars alike. Moreover, these barriers to access, including paywalls and other rights restrictions, leave poor countries, institutions, and researchers who lack healthy financial backing behind. The internet has provided the vehicle for fast, easily transferable information but rights access has gotten in the way; and this affects everyone. Removing those barriers to information and data results in a bigger pot of researchers, faster, more collaborative scientific progress, and a better educated society overall. 

 

             

*Graphics credit: Safia Begum. 

 

Open Access provides solutions for faculty and researchers

Publishers often insist authors transfer their (copy)rights over to the publisher while offering very little money (if any), leaving the creator little control to exploit additional rights over their work after publication. This may result in roadblocks down the line and limit how the author can reuse their own work. The author is frequently paid in prestige and the promise of tenure. However, here's how the paradigm is changing:

 

  • Global Visibility. The desire for global visibility and dialog is growing. Many are now understanding that paywalls close doors and that Open Access provides the pathway to a limitless global audience and increased traffic of online content. 

  • Collaboration. The opportunity to collaborate with scientists and researchers on a global stage which advances scientific and scholarly discovery, as well as collaborative research. 

  • Citation Advantage. A 2018 NIH study titled, "The State of OA: a large scale analysis of the prevalence and impact of open access articles", determined that "OA articles receive 18% more citations than average, an effect driven primarily by Green and Hybrid OA." OA offers opportunities for readership of non-academic work as well. This research article published in PLOS Biology titled, "Open Access Increases Citation Rate" provides additional evidence of higher citation rates. 

  • Reducing Costs. Open access may create less economic strain on certain budgets within libraries, universities, and institutions by eliminating costly journal access, thereby lowering barriers to access and the reading of scholarly works. 

  • Retaining More Rights. The ability to capitalize upon one's many intellectual property rights that have been retained, as well as the creative control to promote one's research any way one likes.

  • Changes to tenure. Universities are revising their tenure requirements to factor in open access publications and OER.  

 

Open Access provides benefits to society

  • Societal needs are evolving and scholars are realizing that information should be transferable to all, and not just the few who can afford it. Creates equal opportunity to developing nations. 

  • Potential to advance citizen science inititatives. 

  • Sourya Reddy of The Bastion, in his video titled, "How Did We Get Here?", explains why OA is important for developing countries. 

 

Open Educational Resources (OER) benefits students

  • Lowers Cost. Lowers college costs for students through the elimination of expensive textbooks or article access, and by incorporating Open Access course bundling provided by the instructor. 

  • Better Student Retention. A 2016 study titled, "Maintaining Momentum Toward Graduation: OER and the Course Throughput Rate" authored by John Levi Hilton III, Lane Fischer, David Wiley, and Professor Linda Williams of Tidewater Community College, found better student retention overall for those who used OER, as well as better grade outcomes. Moreover, students using OER tended to take additional credits, thereby allowing them to graduate earlier. 

  • Up-to-Date Education. This video by BlinkTower illustrates why Open Educational Resources are so important for an effective, up to date, education. 

Arguments for Open Access

*Danny Kingsley and Sarah Brown present an Argument for Open Access illustration. Arguments include: "More exposure for your work, practitioners can apply your findings, higher citation rates, your research can influence policy, the public can access your findings, compliant with grant rules, taxpayers get value for money, researchers in developing countries can see your work."