Open Access Thoughts

Without getting into the nitty gritty details of it, open access is important. From a scholar and researcher standpoint working on my PhD, I’ve grappled for some time with the notion of who has access to the research we conduct and who is it for? As academics, most of the work we do is to help advance our careers, so publishing and such is a necessity. And its likely that work is written for a specific academic audience. Even still, by not making that research public positions us as gatekeepers of higher knowledge -even if it is not the writer/researchers intentions. The idea that research is not available to the public through open access perpetuates a classist and elitest mindset.  It says that you have to reach this level of professional, economic, or academic success to have certain information, and if you don’t, well too bad. Even universities with low funding run into these issues, when their libraries are not subscribed to certain databases or journals preventing academic professionals from accessing materials in their own field and having to seek other ways.

There are many benefits to open access, with an obvious one being that barriers are removed that prevent the public from accessing “subscriptions, licensing fees, pay-per-view fees) and permission barriers (most copyright and licensing restrictions)” (Suber 2014).  This doesn’t mean public copyright laws are to be ignored and definitely doesn’t mean we shouldn’t access materials that is not our own to reproduce or make money by claiming it is ours. This is why there are still critiques across the board on citing practices and abusing free material in the public domain. i do think its important as an author/journal/any publication that uses open access to have a statement on how they would like to be cited if any material is used by the public. This ensure ethical practices are being documented, although we cannot prevent people from abusing them.

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