D.J. McPhee
25 March 2024
Posted inSubmission Post authorD.J. McPhee

Benefits of Open Access

The benefits of open access are important to understand.

While open access has been around for quite some time, there are still many people that don’t know about it. More accurately, the might not know how open access can help them. Because of this, being able to answer questions about open access is critical. Make sure that your team knows both the positives (as well as the drawbacks) of open access so that they can handle any potential questions from authors.

What is open access

We’ve gone into the differences between open access and traditional publishing previously. We encourage you to learn more about the differences in publishing methods. Briefly though, let’s go over some of the main elements of open access.

Open access is used to talk about a general set of principles. It also is important to note that open access (also called OA) encompasses a broad range of practices. Not all plushers do the same thing, and open access isn’t really a “monolith”. Open access aims to provide unrestricted access to research articles and allows readers to read, download, copy, distribute, etc., without paywalls. One benefit is that this allows the rapid dissemination of content. This in turn, has a major influence on the speed of research.

Open and accessible research has been one of the major goals of open access. In removing the paywalls, anyone (from academics to news organizations) can download and read the content.

Benefits of open access

Open access is a type of publishing and they all have benefits and downsides. Here, we’ll talk about three of the main benefits of OA publishing:

  1. Absence of paywalls;
  2. Speed of research;
  3. Availability of research.

While there are many benefits, we’ll address these three first.

Absence of paywalls

Debatably, the biggest benefit of open access is the lack of paywalls. Historically, traditional publishing would put its content behind a paywall and you needed to pay to access it. This meant that you would either need to have a subscription to the journal, or pay for the individual article(s). For research institutions that were well funded or from first world nations, this might not necessarily be a problem. In some cases however, this was a massive barrier to entry for lots of academics and researchers.

Many institutions around the world have limited funds, and this can severely impact their ability to meaningfully contribute to the proliferation of knowledge. Open access simply removes this barrier, making it possible for anyone around the world to access research. In addition to accessing research freely, it also opens the door to be able to perform more research.

Speed of research

The speed of research is a broad concept that covers a few different things. Primarily, the distribution of results. Because open access research can be made available so quickly, it, in turn, can help to speed up the research and results of other groups around the world.

By ensuring that there is a speedy vehicle for research, other groups can then build on that research and then release their own research. This cycle continues. In recent years, there have been some very significant and notable cases of the “speed of research” leading to vaccine discovery or the expansion of general information about a subject. Everything from cancer to AI can benefit from more information, and if that information is made available quickly, almost everyone wins.

With paywalls, sometimes this can lead to delays, as you need to wait for approval to spend funds on an article or a subscription.

Availability of research

This is similar to “absence of paywalls”, but there are a few distinctions to keep in mind. The absence of a paywall is related to finances. The availability of research is related to the general state of knowledge availability. They both share similar roots, but are important for different reasons.

While having no paywalls makes access to research much easier, that availability has vast implications.

For starters, when research is available, countries in the Global South are more readily able to level the research field. Without open access, an institution may be in the situation of having excellent researchers and ideas, but never truly being able to maximize that potential.

The availability of research is important to all researchers.

Why selling open access matters

Open access is not a new concept, but traditional publishing is very firmly entrenched. This isn’t to say that there is anything wrong with traditional publishing, they each have pros and cons—but for the reasons above, many people are strong believers in the merits of open access.

As an academic journal, you might need to explain why authors should consider publishing in open access.

One major factor to consider is that there seems to be data suggesting that open access manuscripts receive more citations. But to some degree or another, choosing open access is a question of committing to publishing medium and sticking to it.

More important than which you pick (traditional publishing or open access publishing) is that you stick to it.

Your journal needs consistency, so making sure that your team can explain the benefits of either style of publishing is critical.

D.J. McPhee
25 March 2024
Posted inSubmission
Post author D.J. McPhee
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