Topic 5: Reflecting on Open Access

The blog posts this week have produced divided opinions and highlighted the debate that exists around open access. All the blog posts agree that open access is a fantastic concept, but it is not as simple as it seems. Though public funded access should be freely available this is not a utopian society and people have to make money and research grants can only stretch so far. It was interesting to read blog posts like Sarah Kyle’s, who suggested that even university students have problems accessing paid journals, which highlights that universities funding isn’t endless. Thus, neither the current system of open access or the pay for access system are truly ideal.

Each of the posts captured the benefits as well as the limitations of open access. For example, May Bulman interestingly suggested that pay walls limiting an individual’s access, may also be limiting our ability to critically analyse information due to a lack of funds to access multiple items. The majority of posts also highlighted the issue with quality in open access. Yet, Bartosz Paszcza did not agree that we lose quality with open access; he explained that many of the top OA journals are regarded as on par with the traditional ones.

A topic I found particularly interesting this week was the ethics surrounding open access. I posed a question to Jens Buhler suggesting that academics may feel pressured to publish in open access journals, as it’s the ‘ethical thing to do’. Similarly, Tatiana Sieff considered ethics from the viewpoint of those who consider restricted access as unethical.

The final topic of the course has been exceptionally interesting and diverse, with many of the posts linking the debate around open access back to previous week’s topics.


Jens Buhler

Bartosz Paszcza


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