What the heck! Access denied!?

My first glimpse at this week’s topic immediately reminded me of those late nights where I was rushing anxiously to meet my deadlines – how frustrating it was, to finally come across an intriguing paper that appears relevant to my work, then realised that I had no access to it. I am sure most of you who reads this would be able to relate.

As suggested by Nick Shockey and Jonathan Eisen in a YouTube video, prices are increasing – research has shown that journal prices have outpaced inflation by over 250% over the past 30 years. Similarly, a post by TheDrum indicated that 90% of online content would likely be held behind a paywall in the coming years. As a consequence, it’s believed that middle and low-income countries are struggling, they have limited access to literature relevant to education and as a result, it’s preventing them from contributing or doing world-class research, as well as improving education.

Yet, on a content producer’s perspective, there are a few more issues to consider when deciding on making their materials freely available online or not.

First, it’s obviously an advantage to have it free online, as the more people see the papers, the more they could build upon them and cite you. However, it is important to note that although there are no or few distribution costs for online publishing, some marketing is required to get people to your site. That means, you have to register your publication with as many search engines as possible, and often times, this entails a cost.

Second, publishing materials freely online mean that there is no “final” product – any errors can be corrected in a matter of minutes or seconds even. You would think this means less effort, but NO – links need to be tested regularly in order to avoid ‘linkrot’. Also, since editing can be done at any time, there’s a responsibility attached to make sure what needs to be fixed is fixed ASAP.

Third, you would think, having materials published online will give you more room for creativity and experimentation, which is true, as there are less strict layout formats required. Still, at the same time, content producers have to be extra cautious with issues such as plagiarism and copyrights. This is because copyright laws for the Internet have not been firmly established yet.

Finally, inspite of all the issues that need to be considered when publishing materials freely online, I would like to agree with the idea that science spreads and increases best with open access, and here is a TED Talk where Elizabeth Marincola indicated that ‘When the best research somehow gets converted into a privately-controlled, limited access commodity, we are in danger of losing sight of our purpose.’


Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Publishing. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University. Available from: http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/page.cfm?pageid=803&guideid=37 (Accessed on 10/12/16)

Lepitak, S. (2013) 90% of online content to be held behind paywalls in three years media company survey suggests. The Drum News. Available from:

http://www.thedrum.com/news/2013/04/12/90-online-content-be-held-behind-paywalls-three-years-media-company-survey-suggests (Accessed on 10/12/16)

Marincola, E. (2013) What happens when science, money, and freedom of information collide?. TEDMED. Available from:

http://www.tedmed.com/talks/show?id=17821 (Accessed on 10/12/16)

Piled Higher and Deeper (PHD Comics). (2012) Open Access Explained!. YouTube. Available from:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=L5rVH1KGBCY (Accessed on 10/12/16)


One thought on “What the heck! Access denied!?

  1. Pingback: Goodbye, #UOSM20! | Hei Lam Cheung

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s