Open Access, Everything You Need to Know about It

The introduction of the internet led to the emergence of digital archiving. Therefore, making digital access to information to increase significantly. However, the most important milestone in digital access to information and making it publicly and freely available was the emergence of the open access movement. Open access is a part of the wider open movement that encourages the free exchange of knowledge and resources to encourage creativity and widened access.

What Is Open Access?

Open access refers to freely available digital information online. Making research publications freely available so anyone can benefit from reading and using research is also termed open access. (Problems with open access journals)

However, open access goes beyond making research available to read, allowing others to make use of the research in their work. Scholarly literature that is open access is usually free of charge and most often than not, carry less restrictive copyright and licensing barriers than traditionally published works.

Without open access people pay

It's free with open access

Versions of Open Access

There are majorly two distinct versions of open access which are:

  • Gratis Open Access

Gratis’s open access makes scholarly literature and research available for others to read without paying for it. However, with gratis open access, readers do not have the right to modify, make copies, or distribute the work in any way beyond fair use.

  • Libre Open Access

Libre open access like gratis open access makes scholarly literature and research available free of charge (What is an article processing charge?). However, it goes a little further to grant users additional rights that allow users to reuse and remix the scholarly literature or research freely. There are various degrees of libre open access, as some scholarly articles may permit all uses except commercial use. In contrast, some may permit all uses except derivative works and so on.

Why Open Access Matters

When writing a research or scholarly literature, new knowledge is usually synthesized from current knowledge. However, if the current knowledge is behind a publisher firewall where only those who can afford it can access it, it limits the number of researchers that can actually contribute to moving the knowledge of a particular subject forward.

Nowadays, non-open access journals are very expensive, therefore, making research a costly undertaken for researchers with a limited budget. Also, libraries usually have subscriptions to a large number of scholarly journals to allow members to access the library’s journals. Still, the ever-rising cost of journal subscriptions is beginning to become a burden to libraries.

Therefore, instead of scholarly materials being stuck behind a paywall with exorbitant subscription prices, open access allows research to be free to use and read by anyone with access to the Internet. The major importance of open access is to level the playing field so that independent researchers, students, faculty members, and the entire public have the same level of access to scholarly materials.

Benefits of Open Access

Scholars, students, and the general public are all beneficiaries of open access, the benefits of open access are as follows.

Wider Society

Research and scholarly literature that is being held behind a publisher’s paywall is restricted to being accessed by only those that can afford it. However, open access research can benefit anyone from students to small businesses to schools. This particular benefit is why many funders now require the outputs of the research they fund to be made open access.

Better for Researchers and Research Institutions

With the rising journal costs and constrained library budgets, researchers and research institutions have begun to benefit from open access. The benefit includes:

check markHelps in the provision of evidence for an impact
check markIncreases the reach of research
check markIncreased citations which help to improve the reputation for researchers and their host institution
check markHelp to increase open, transparent and reproducible research practices that lead to improved quality research
check markIncreased applications of research findings
check markResearch can now better influence policies

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