Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Topic 5: Open Access to Online Materials

Explain the advantages and disadvantages to a content producer of making their materials freely available online
With the internet becoming more accessible, materials and data are easily attainable online. But the question is, should online materials be accessed for free? As a student, I often do researches and download articles for classes. However, some articles requires me to purchase for the full access which I did not, because there were alternate sources that are free. Those articles might be better, but I rather not take the risk as they cost a lot. 

PhDTV mentioned in the video that he paid for dozens of materials, but most gone to waste as he does not know which materials are relevant until he paid for them as brief abstracts was not clear of what they contain.  In addition, there are no return policies for online materials. Furthermore, if researchers were paid by taxpayers and the government to do research to distribute the research data, why are journals are collecting money? I understand that money-making is important in this competitive society, but increasing the prices by 250% over the past 30 years is too much. According to Simon-Kucher and his partners, 90% of online content are expected to be behind paywalls in the next 3 years. 

Let's review the advantages of open access. Basically, it benefits almost everyone; researchers, research funders, schools, businesses, and the public. When ideas are shared and exchanged, it accelerates the pace of scientific discoveries, encourages innovations, and enriches education according to SPARCI agree with Mike Taylor that scientists should bring knowledge into the world, and it is immoral to hide it. Also, knowledge can be passed down to the less developed countries where scientists have lower income. This creates opportunities for them to participate in international research communities. In addition, investors would be aware of the research and there would be more funds for research. Eventually, all these lead to a better society. 

On the other hand, I agree with George Chiverton in saying that accessible online materials will lead to free education. I think e-learning would be widely used within the next century and lecturers can simply use the resources available online for the students to refer to, and this saves a lot of cost for the institutes and the government. While Chiverton thinks that open access may to free education, I believe that 'real education' will never be free because we still would have to pay school fees and have teachers to guide us along. Open access will only broaden our knowledge of our interest as it is up to us to look up for information online.  Many people share their knowledge through videos on YouTube these days. For example, I learnt basic Korean from 99korean and watching step-by-step cooking guides! 

However, the disadvantage is the lack of quality control as anyone can upload materials online. All those information obtained from open access journals such as YouTube, Wikipedia, and other sites may not be 100% right as they were not reviewed. With reference to Claire Shaw's article, it reported that hundreds of open access journal accepted fake science paper. These false information can cause people to have wrong concept about a subject. Furthermore, it might lead to exponential growth of the number of people having the false information. 

In conclusions, I do support open access as I believe that 'sharing is caring'. However, we must be careful of wrong information posted. Thus, we should refer to a few sources before using them. 


Stephen Lepitak (2013) 90% of online content to be held behind paywalls in 3 years media company survey suggests. [Online] 

SPARC (2013) Why Open Access? [Online]

Alma Swan and Leslie Chan (2009) Open Access Scholarly Information Source Book. [Online]

Mike Taylor (2013) Hiding your research behind a paywall is immoral. [Online]

PhD Comics (2012) Open Access Explained! [Online]

George Chiverton (2014) Explain the Advantages and Disadvantages to a content producer of making their materials freely available online. [Online]

Edanz (2013) Advantages and Disadvantages of Open Access. [Online]

Wiley (2014) Understanding Open Access. [Online]

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jamie,

    I definitely agree that by allowing open access to online materials, there would be a high chance of having information exchanged, either by people with the same or different perspective. Another point that I do agree with you would be what you mentioned about the information from Wikipdia. I have always been told not to take any information from Wikipedia for my assignment as it is not a trustworthy platform to get the accurate information because anyone are allow to edit the articles!

    It is true that education is never free and we do pay school fees in school. But where do teachers get the right information from? I believe they paid for those resources too. They are just someone who take in those information first and then passing it on to us.

    Well, do you have any suggestion as to how we can prevent the spread of misinformation?



Brown Bobblehead Bunny