Topic 5: Open Access


From my own personal experience creating reports and writing essays, I know too well the importance of open access and not being able to access a full journal articles when researching a topic. My info graphic displayed above gives an overview of what open access is, why it is used, who it benefits and who it doesn’t.  To fully understand open access I will be looking deeper into who open access benefits and the biggest challenge facing open access.

There are two types of Open Access, gold and green. The main difference is simply who picks up the cost of publishing. Gold refers to instead of charging readers to access scholarly journals by way of subscription; publishers will charge authors and institutions to publish their papers. This allows research papers to appear immediately and freely available.  Green refers to researchers to continue publishing in subscriptions journals but without payment. This approach means that researchers can make their papers freely available themselves. Green open access might not incur any cost by the author, however traditional publication costs may still apply

Open Access is seen to be a very important factor when researching in the near future. The UK government announced they were to commit £10m to help research findings freely available. From this we can see there is a massive shift towards open access of publishing.

This must make us wonder; with the Gold open access route becoming the most popular what is the biggest challenge facing open access? One of the biggest challenges highlighted by Ruth Francis is that open access journals are less established than subscription journals and that they aren’t being tracked for impact factors. This relates to the issue highlighted in my info graphic. Open Access Journals have been criticized for having low quality; this has become a big problem especially due to fact that a large number of young researchers will be using open access.

There have been recent arguments that open access isn’t enough on its own.  Open access isn’t necessarily always easy to access, excuse the pun. Researchers who are efficient can go unrewarded. Although the data is made available to everyone for free, the detail given isn’t really enough to understand at times how the research was actually conducted.

As a student, I am all for open access as without it my academic experience at University would have severely suffered. Stating this, I can’t ignore the issues with quality of journal articles and open access. Therefore I would hope in the future that certain provisions are made to ensure that quality of open access journals are on par with subscription based articles as the pros of open access completely outweigh the cons.


Barr, S. (2012). Open Access and its impact on the future of the university librarian. Available: Last accessed 10th Dec 2016.

Lepitak, S. (2013). 90% of online content to be held behind paywalls in three years media company survey suggests90% of online content to be held behind paywalls in three years media company survey suggests. Available: Last accessed 10th Dec 2016.

Ratcliffe, R.. (2014). What’s the biggest challenge facing open access? . Available: Last accessed 10th Dec 2016.

Sansone, S.A.. (2014). Open access is not enough on its own – data must be free too . Available: Last accessed 10th Dec 2016.

Taylor, M. (2012). The Guardian. Available: Last accessed 10th Dec 2016.


One thought on “Topic 5: Open Access

  1. harrykett says:

    Hi Melak,

    Another great post, your use of some humour really brought the post to life. Also, figures added to your argument, especially where you mentioned that the government will commit £10m to aid research. This shows how open access could work in the real world and not just as a theory.

    However, as I mentioned in my post, many institutions have put measures in place to allow their members to access articles. For example, our university has some of its budget allocated to subscriptions to many journals. Therefore, it can be argued that we are able to access journals without the need to potentially compromise the quality of the articles that we are reading.

    Would you agree, therefore, that open access is not entirely necessary for academic students or do you still support the argument?


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