Topic 5- Open access- The Advantages and Disadvantages for content producers

Open access refers to the ability to freely use and redistribute content that has been created by another person, without having any concerns over copyright restrictions. The digitisation of research materials has led to an improved ability to retrieve content efficiently (Wilinsky, 2006). Despite this renewed convenience, many published works are behind pay walls with expensive subscription prices. The high cost of academic work has seen journal prices outpace inflation by over 250% over the past 30 years (Shockley and Eisen, 2012).


The figure below demonstrates the 4r’s of freely access resources, suggesting the ways that the conent may be used.

free access four R's
Figure 1

According to Wiley et al (2012), There is a perception among some content creators that once a publication has been made freely available, the material loses some credibility, while publication charges will also have to be paid for content to be made available (Lepitak, 2013).Considering this, it is easy to understand why some authors are against open access content. However, According to the open access information source book, freely available content fundamentally acts as way to maintain a level of high quality learning while reducing the cost of education. This is extremely important in improving knowledge gaps between classes in the U.K., but may also improve education opportunities in developing countries.

open acces pros and cons
Figure 2



In the later stages of the Ted talk below, Jack Andraka notes the emergence of a “Knowledge class system” that permits only the financially elite to improve their educational desires while economically underprivileged groups must be deprived of knowledge, something considered as a basic human right. Therefore, He strongly advocates open access because not only does this create greater equality for publication access, but it ensures that the resources are relevant. In some cases, even if content can be afforded, often only the abstract can be reviewed before the purchase has been made. However, the abstract may not accurately reflect the rest of the material in the research, causing money to be wasted by some researchers (Open

From an individual perspective I strongly support the use of open access content because as a student I regularly recognize the frustrations associated with denial of access to research that may personally benefit the quality of my academic work. Additionally, with greater content access, the credibility of a publishers work is sustained through increased citations and an improved sharing of academic wealth.

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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 LearningCenter for American Progress.

Lepitak. S (2013). Should online content be free? Is anything really free? How should authors be rewarded for their work? Is traditional copyright legislation fit for purpose in the digital age?

Shockley. N and Eisen. J (2012) “Open access explained!” YouTube video

Forbes article (2013) Education finally ripe for radical innovation by social entrepreneurs.

Open Pros and cons of open access

Open access scholarly information sourcebook (2010) Benefits of Open Access for research dissemination

Willinsky, J. (2006). The access principle: The case for open access to research and grant. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Andreka J (2013). YouTube video, Paywalls vs. open access:


Image references:

Figure 1- self-made using piktcohart

Figure 2- self-made using piktcohart



10 thoughts on “Topic 5- Open access- The Advantages and Disadvantages for content producers

  1. Hi David
    Enjoyed your blog this week, particularly the notion of the financial elite having greater access to knowledge, which seems like something that really needs to be addressed. During my own research for my blog I did however find that the cost of open access publishing can be incredibly high, and often the content producer is the one who has to fund it. Consequently, open access may be creating a financial divide between those who can afford to publish this way and those who cannot, which seems to be the opposite of what the strategy is trying to achieve, and I was wondering what your thoughts on this were?
    Nonetheless the notion behind open access publishing and spreading knowledge without barriers is definitely one that I can get behind and support. Hopefully once it becomes more established these disadvantages can be overcome, as I too understand your frustrations of attempting to access journals hidden behind paywalls!
    Word Count: 159


    • Hi Rebecca,
      Thanks for your comment! I certainly agree that while the high price of journal articles is unjustified, so too are the extremely high costs of publishing for the content producer. Despite this issue however, I also feel there is greater validation for the prices that content producers have to pay for publishing. Upon researching these issues I found that publishing costs play an important role in maintaining the quality control of journal articles through rigorous peer evaluation processes, plagiarism checks and metadata production- These are more thoroughly expressed in the following article ( Additionally, this publication process also ensures that through strict selectivity only the most essential and high quality content is published in order to benefit future research among readers. With this in mind, I believe that publication costs actually play an important role in refining the knowledge economy, while also adding greater credibility to journals that are published. What are your thoughts on this?
      Thanks, David


      • Hi David
        Whilst I certainly cannot disagree with the perks of having your work rigorously assessed and looked over, in order to improve the quality of it, it still adds barriers for the content producer in terms of their ability to publish, which could consequently mean that they are unable to share their knowledge with the world. I know it is unrealistic to expect all journals to provide their services for free, however I remain hopeful that as more academics turn to open access publishing, the costs will go down, giving more academics a chance to get their work and name out into the world.
        Thanks, Rebecca


  2. Hi David, Your post is great! Im glad that you also understand the frustrations of not being able to access specific journals when needed. I particularly enjoyed your graphic that talked about the 4R’s of open access as i thought this was a clever way of remembering it. I wonder what your thoughts are on other ways of sharing information such as “creative commons” where people can easily change their copyright terms from the default of all rights reserved to some rights reserved. Do you think this is a better way to protect the producer while also helping more people access information or do you feel like this still has many similar drawbacks? I thought the information of your post was really well structured and the graphics you made really added depth and allowed better understanding overall. The disadvantages and advantages table especially made it clear the arguments for each side. Overall i found you post really good so thank you for sharing!
    Kind Regards 
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    • Hi Cherie,
      Thanks for reading my post, I’m glad you enjoyed it! Before reading your question I had very little knowledge on creative commons, so this definitely gave me something to explore thoroughly. Having researched the benefits of creative commons I can certainly see how its use has the potential to benefit content creators and users mutually. For the content users, creative commons seems to support a richer public domain and greater opportunities for information sharing. I feel this can only benefit future research and continue to build a greater pool of knowledge and artistic outputs. For the content creator, it appears the greatest advantage of creative commons is the freedom of selectivity that it offers. Allowing content producers to decide on the types of rights they want to reserve suggests that creative commons is a flexible process that could appeal to a large proportion of content producers. The main drawback of creative commons, however, appears to primarily effect the content user. Since the content producer is able to easily alter their copyright terms from “some rights reserved” back to “all rights reserved”, this could create legal issues for people using the content before the terms were changed, even though they were unaware of the alteration. However, I feel that besides this issue, creative commons is certainly a favourable development.
      Thanks again,


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