Topic 5

Topic 5: What are the advantages and disadvantages to a content producer of making their materials freely available online?

As more of us than ever are using the internet globally, it makes sense that more content is being made available online to us too. Accessing content online means that we can look at it on the go and use more than one source at a time.

The majority of articles that are accessed for my modules are through university paid subscriptions, which had I had to pay for myself, I’m not sure that I would have used them at all. Having your work freely available to all seems like it would be a good idea due to increased global sharing, which seems like it should be the ultimate goal of knowledge and learning, however, still the majority of materials still aren’t freely accessible. This video explains exactly what open access publishing is.

Video source: (Piled Higher and Deeper (PHD Comics) 2012)

Why aren’t some resources made freely available online?

In 2013 it was estimated that 90% of digital content would have to be paid for in the near future (Lepitak, S. 2013) so we have to ask just why is this?

disadv of open access.png

Figure 1: Self made. Image credits-

Although on the surface it seems that open access would be a good thing for the sharing of knowledge, it seems that sometimes it comes at a great cost to the producer, with issues of integrity and quality of the work, as well as problems with rights and funding falling onto them.

Why do producers choose to make resources freely available online?

Particularly within the education sector, there has been an increasing trend of materials appearing online. In order to provide students currently studying cheaper total costs of education, and for those that cannot afford to study it gives them a way of accessing it, in particular in developing countries across the world.

Many successful groups have been formed just through creating online libraries and access to these materials, such as the Khan Academy. As education cannot happen without the sharing of information and knowledge it makes sense to have resources freely available so that knowledge can successfully be distributed (Wiley, D. et al. 2012), which is crucial on a global scale (Frosio, G.F. 2014).

ADV OF OPEN ACCESS.pngFigure 2: Self made. Image Credits- feedback/

Open access publishing brings about many advantages to the producer in terms of globally circulating their knowledge and expertise, which is crucial in the academic field, in order to for them to move forward. However it does come with many downsides, which I believe could be easily overcome, with investments into clearing up rights and responsibilities. As more people begin to use open access to publish their work, the greater the respectability the work will receive, and will hopefully also help to reduce publication costs, meaning open access could indeed be the future of publishing.

Word Count: 414


Piled Higher and Deeper (PHD Comics) 2012 Open Access Explained!

Lepitak, S. 2013 90% of online content to be held behind paywalls in three years media company survey suggests

Wiley, D. et al. 2012. Dramatically Bringing down the Cost of Education with OER: How Open Education Resources Unlock the Door to Free Learning. ERIC.

Frosio, G.F. 2014. Open Access Publishing: A Literature Review. CREATe.

Dunn, D. 2013. Education Finally Ripe For Radical Innovation By Social Entrepreneurs. Forbes.

Open Access and Copyright.!

Rajagopalan, J. 2015. Publish faster, progress faster: The basics of rapid publication. Editage.

Higher Education Funding Council for England. 2017. Open access research.

Open Access Scholarly Information Sourcebook. 2012. Overview of Open Access Publishing

PLOS. Benefits of Open Access Journals.PLOS. Benefits of Open Access Journals.

List of Figures

Figure 1: Self made using Microsoft Word

Figure 2: Self made using Microsoft Word.


11 thoughts on “Topic 5: What are the advantages and disadvantages to a content producer of making their materials freely available online?

  1. Hi Rebecca,
    Really insightful post this week. I feel you provided a fair debate towards the advantages and disadvantages of open access, while also offering some solutions for the future of online publications. At the end of you post you mention that through open access the “respectability” of work will improve. Do you believe this improved respect is felt by both the content producer and reader? I would argue that for a content producer, they may perceive their work as more respected if a journal fee is required to view their content, rather than making it openly accessible. I feel that there is an alleged association between journal prices and the perception that you may be receiving premium quality material (Even if this is not the case). Do you feel that paywalls ever truly make content more credible, or is this merely an illusion?
    Thanks, David
    Word count: 146


  2. Hi David
    Thank you for reading my blog this week! In terms of respectability, I do believe that as open access publishing increases, and becomes more widespread that respectability will also increase, as more materials are available and more citations are used from each piece. Consequently I feel that this will mutually increase respect for both producer and reader.

    Personally, I am not entirely sure that by paying a journal fee would increase respectability, as they are paying more for the services that the journal provides than the content itself, therefore I would say that the only advantage of publishing through journals that have a fee is that the work is more likely to be rigorously checked than it would have if it was published via open access, but the heart of the materials will still be the same.


  3. Hi Rebecca, I enjoyed reading your post this week!

    Some of the disadvantages of open access to journal articles that you spoke about were ideas I hadn’t considered in my post, and I particularly liked your focus on the ‘world’ or improving access on a ‘global’ scale. David included a very interesting video in his post this week where the speaker ended by saying he wanted to abolish the ‘knowledge underclass’ in the world – i.e. those in poorer countries with very limited access to journals / knowledge – take a look I think you’ll enjoy it!

    I do wonder, however, how much open access will actually help those in the ‘underclass’, as even though journals can waive fees to researchers who want to publish from poorer countries, many struggle to find grants to support their research in the first place, and research journals from poorer countries who rely on subscriptions and can’t waiver may suffer!

    What are your thoughts? (check the links in text)


    Word count: 165


    1. Hi Scott!
      Thanks for taking the time to comment on my post this week. I actually commented on David’s blog this week, so I have already seen this video, but I definitely agree that the ideas of the global knowledge underclass is definitely something that should be considered. So much time and energy is instead focused on the higher education and knowledge of those in the developed world, who are likely to have greater access to journals and knowledge as a whole.
      I think that open access will definitely help those who cannot afford to access the journals that are hidden behind paywalls in order to read their contents. However like you say open access may not be something that is of great use to content producers as they may not be able to fund the research in the first place. Consequently I think that this is an issue that goes beyond just whether to publish via open access or not, and instead on how research as whole is funded, and who it tends to favor over others. However once they are able to fund their research by publishing via open access it does mean that their work is able to reach a wider audience, boosting their acknowledgment within academia.


      1. Hi again!

        Oh sorry, but glad you’ve seen it!

        Yes this was my inclination too. Open access will at least provide those studying at universities in poorer countries with access to a significant quantity of papers and resources, which may springboard them to much higher levels of knowledge. Open access is, in this sense, beneficial to all content users, except those who struggle to access internet or have higher education facilities near them, but as you said this goes beyond open access to the wider problem, and at least open access can help in the mean time.

        Again, I agree with you on the problems for content producers from developing countries. Although getting a article into a journal may provide a before-impossible initial step of recognition and acknowledgment, to reach this stage of research may already be problematic in terms of funding.

        Maybe open access advocates should ensure ways that an ‘open playing field’ for publishers exists too, not just for readers. Does open access heighten disparities in research through grant accessibility? Those who can achieve grants are benefited but a gap may be widening further with those who can’t access it.
        Many desire grant-free research to ensure that everyone can share knowledge!

        Do you think, understanding this issue, open access is a step in the right direction?



      2. Hi Scott
        I definitely think that open access is a step in the right direction, in terms of allowing people to share knowledge, as those who were previously unable to access journals are now able to. However like you say there is still a wide gap in terms of grants and funding for the content producer, which is definitely something that needs to be addressed, as personally I don’t think we should have to pay to get our ideas, research and knowledge out there, as it could have a major impact on the way that we view and interact with the world.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Rebecca, thanks for your post. I found if of interest how you explained yourself that you would be unlikely to pay for a journal article. I think this accurately describes a paradigm shift in the digital community. Content is now expected to come without cost and I feel that academia is slow to respond to this change.

    Throughout your post you seem to allude to producers publishing in either a traditional journal or to self publish online. However, there are open access journals across many disciplines that will handle the reviewing and publishing like a traditional journal but tend to be funded through alternate means [1]. While these journals do not have the same credibility as Science or Nature they do carry gravitas.

    Could you see open access journals in combination with delayed access and hybrid access schemes take hold in the future or that the journals have met their end?



    1. Directory of Open Access Journals [Internet]. 2017 [cited 8 May 2017]. Available from:

    [150 words]


    1. Hi Jordan
      Thanks for taking the time to comment on my blog this week! I definitely agree that academia is slow to respond in terms of access to free journals, as the cost of being a student is so high currently, more really does need to be done to make all aspects of education and accessible to all.
      I definitely think that for the moment paid for journals continue to carry the most influence and respectability across the board as a whole, but like I said in my post, I personally wouldn’t pay for access to them. Consequently I do think that with a rise in users, or the adoption of schemes such as delayed access this indeed may change the ways in which the academic community interact with articles and the ways that we access them in the near future.


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