Scholarly Publishing: Open Access

Video credit: Online Access explained!- posted by Piled Higher and Deeper (PHD Comics) on YouTube



OA-logoOpen Access (OA) means immediate, permanent, free online access to the full text of all referred research journal articles”

What is important to note about Open Access is that not only are the articles free to access and immediately available online, but that they also have free re-use rights. This is important because it means that anyone can access the articles from anywhere in the world and can then build on that research, making it more valuable in the long run.

The typical academic publishing model is very expensive and therefore elitist. Now that journals are published online, subscriptions to big journals (specifically in the sciences) are incredibly costly. A subscription to one journal for one year can sets an institution back, on average, $1000 (and in many cases even more). This means that the knowledge in these journals is not accessible to the masses, and though you can buy individual copies of papers from publishers, you do not know exactly what you are getting, or how useful the article will be to you, until after you’ve paid for it. Access to knowledge is therefore being impeded by monetary restraints.

Though there are many benefits to publishing in a big academic journal, in theory work published in an open access journal will be seen by more people, as your research will be free to access. In turn, this will result in more people citing your article. Though open access journals lack the prestige associated with certain large journals, open access can help certain fields develop more quickly, as research can be built upon without restriction. The open publishing model also improves data mining, as connections between articles can be seen more quickly and easily, especially across various academic disciplines.


Think before you ink

Before publishing your own research there are a number of issues you may want to consider. Your motives for publication could strongly affect where and how you choose to publish, such as:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • Is it more important that the work is widely read or that it is read in specific contexts, by the right people?
  • What professional benefits or financial rewards do you stand to gain from publication in a specific journal vs. an openly accessible publication, an institutional repository such as UBC’scIRcle, the University of Toronto’s TSpace, a personal archive and/or e-portfolio, etc.?
  • How might your intellectual property rights be affected by publishing this way?


The Digital Tattoo Project encourages critical discussion on topics surrounding digital citizenship and online identity. There are no correct answers and every person will view these topics from a different perspective.  Be sure to complete the previous sections before answering the questions.

  • Would you consider publishing your work in an Open Access journal?
  • How do you think Open Access publishing will impact the future of education?

One response to “Scholarly Publishing: Open Access”

  1. Erin Fields

    Scholarly publishing cycles are changing as we see more networked technologies being developed. There are academics who tweet, blog, and otherwise publish there content in a variety of ways other than a journal article or book. I think this gives great opportunity to the future reach of scholarship. Great post!

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