Topic 5

Would You Pay to Read this Blog if it Cost £1,000?

As a student, I am usually first to exploit freely available information online; this is called open access: when knowledge is shared without charge and without most licensing restrictions. Personally, I benefit from open access through scientific research however, free online content also includes media platforms such as newspapers, music and television shows which is further elaborated in Figure 1. However, this post will mainly focus on academic research.


Figure 1. Displays the advantages and disadvantages of free access to media content

Furthermore, the terms that will be used throughout this blog post are defined below in Figure 2.

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Figure 2. Defines the terms that are associated with open access

Open access provides the perfect solution for a capitalist society: scientist get funding to do their job – and in most cases, that is public money. So why should society pay fees to access this content? Additionally, paid access to scientific research creates a further division of rich and poor; thus free access to scientific content can help to liquidize these effects.  Further to this point, societal growth is now being driven by a knowledge economy; this is supported by Mark Zuckerberg who states that “Today’s economy is based on knowledge and ideas” which reinforces the need for academic information to be made freely available, so less-economically developed countries can evolve. Fortunately, in May 2016 the Council for the European Union agreed that from 2020 all scientific publications from publicly funded research must be freely available; this demonstrates that progress is being made.

The video below seeks to explain open access in greater depth and is particularly useful from 0-1:30mins

Notwithstanding, open access publishers need to obtain revenue somehow, and unfortunately it’s the researchers and authors themselves who bear the brunt of this need; through publication costs. Correspondingly, fees to publish open access research range from £800-£2000 depending on the journal, but the average Article Procession Charge is around £1700 (Durham University, 2016). Additionally, researchers continuously need to find new ways to meet these costs as well as pay subscription fees to the journals in which they publish (Research Information Network, 2009). Consequently, the development of a scientific publishing model which eradicates these fees while still providing services freely is required; ironically openness will help to push the progress of such a model. Nonetheless, in the meantime publishers could charge less for scientific papers so researchers still make an income and members of the society are able to afford their work.  Additionally, this dialogue is expanded further in figure 3.

open-access_21862372_c42b664aae4f44c5135c526fa59683ba969ac369Figure 3. Explains the advantages and disadvantages of open access

Although publishing companies certainly have a strong case to justify their costly online resources, open access can change lives and masking information behind paywalls is only hindering global development. If the public could access academic research regardless of economic status this could greatly reduce some social issues, since a low socio-economic status and lower educational attainment have a high correlation (Aikens & Barbarin, 2008). Additionally, if this divide begins to close and more developing countries are given free access to the information they need this will increase the knowledge economy – creating a more level playing field.

Word count: 399

Figure References

Featured Image: Flickr 401(K) 2012

Figure 1: Self-Produced Piktochart

information used in Figure 1:  Lawler, S. (2014). Pros and Cons of Digital Rights Management. [Blog] Big ideas. Available at: [Accessed 6 May 2017].

Figure 2: Self Produced: Canva

Definitions: Williams, L. (2017). Blog Archives – OASPA. [online] OASPA. Available at: [Accessed 6 May 2017].

Figure 3: Self-Produced Piktochart

Information used: University of Technology (2017). Advantages and disadvantages of Open Access. [online] Available at: [Accessed 6 May 2017].YouTube clip:


Aikens, N. and Barbarin, O. (2008). Socioeconomic differences in reading trajectories: The contribution of family, neighborhood, and school contexts..

Durham University (2016). Research Outputs : Gold Open Access FAQs – Durham University. [online] Available at: [Accessed 6 May 2017].

European Commission (2017). Guidelines to the Rules on Open Access to Scientific Publications and Open Access to Research Data in Horizon 2020. 3.2. [online] Available at: [Accessed 6 May 2017].

Kelleher, K. (2013). Here comes Mark Zuckerberg’s knowledge economy. [online] Available at: [Accessed 6 May 2017].

Research Information Network (2009). Paying for open access publication charges. Guidance for higher education and research institutions, publishers and authors. [online] Available at: [Accessed 6 May 2017].

Background reading, not included in text:

Forbes Welcome. (2013). Retrieved 8 May 2017, from

Lepitak, S. (2017). 90% of online content to be held behind paywalls in three years media company survey suggests. The Drum. Retrieved 8 May 2017, from

Wiley, D. (2012). Dramatically Bringing down the Cost of Education with OER: How Open Education Resources Unlock the Door to Free Learning.. Retrieved 8 May 2017, from

YouTube. (2012). Open Access Explained. Retrieved from


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