Digital technology has revolutionized the way that we communicate in the 21st century across most spheres of life.
Yet, scholarly communication is still wedded to a communication model established hundreds of years ago.
1. Governments fund the majority of research through public funds. Researchers are mostly employed by public institutions.
2. Researchers send research papers to publishers without the expectation of compensation.
3. Other researchers review the work for free (peer review).
4. Publishers produce journals which they charge to access (academic publishing has one of the highest profit margins of any industry).
5. Those that contributed to the research (taxpayers and public institutions) have to pay to access the research. Often they cannot afford to do so.
Many researchers are now deciding to reject this model and their work available in Open Access form.
Many universities and research institutions are also deciding they can forgo expensive subscriptions to these journals and databases in favor of Open Access alternatives.
Want to learn more about the need for Open Access publishing models? Watch Paywall , a movie about the business of scholarly publishing.
|Increased Discoverability||If your work is behind a paywall, people are less likely to discover and read it.
According to a 2014 report from Nature, Open Access papers are 2-3 times more likely to be read than non-OA papers.
|Increased Academic Citations||
More people reading your work means it will be more likely to be cited. This increases the impact of your work and increases your h-index which is good for your career! Many studies have corroborated this citation advantage:
In 2016, SPARC Europe conducted a literature review of studies on Open Access citations - 46 out of 70 studies show a citation advantage for Open Access papers.
A large scale literature review from 2018 found that Open Access papers receive 18% more citations on average.
|Increased non-academic impact||
The citation advantage holds true for non-academic sources too. Open Access papers are more likely to be cited on Wikipedia and mainstream media outlets allowing the research to reach a wider audience.
One study found that on Wikipedia, Open Access articles are 47% more likely to be cited than non-Open Access papers.
|Public Access to Research||It is taxpayers who ultimately fund a lot of academic research. We have a collective right to access the information resulting from this investment.
Plan-S is an Open Access initiative launched in 2018 by Science Europe. It aims to establish a global coalition of national research agencies to ensure that all publicly funded research is published in Open Access form by 2020. So far, several European countries including France and the UK have signed up to this initiative.
Researchers in the developing world face significant barriers when accessing research. Institutions in the developing world often have significantly lower budgets for accessing resources than those in the developed world. Open Access helps to lower these barriers and ensure more of the world's researchers, doctors and students have access to the same information.
During the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Liberian health officials were unaware of research showing Liberia to have a highly endemic potential of Ebola as this research was locked behind paywalls. This lack of access to research severely limited the local response to the crisis. (Read more about it here and here)
Scientific developments and advances can come from unlikely and unexpected places. By opening up your research to a wider audience you are increasing the number of people who can potentially build upon this knowledge. Especially groups that have traditionally been locked out of academic research; small businesses, entrepreneurs and the general public.
Making research available via Open Access accelerates the pace of discovery and the translation of this research into benefits for the public. If research is immediately available to all, other researchers can quickly and easily build on and apply this new knowledge dramatically accelerating the research process.
|Allows for new tools and techniques||
Open Access takes full advantage of the fundamental nature of the Internet as a system for open communication without barriers. It also allows researchers to incorporate other new technologies and techniques into the research process.
Text and data mining tools can analyze the entire research literature, uncovering trends and connections that no human reader could. While publishers’ technical and legal barriers currently prevent their widespread use, Open Access empowers anyone to use these tools, which hold the potential of revolutionizing how research is conducted.