Open or Closed Access to Knowledge?

Imagine writing an essay and having to pay every time to access a journal article or information? Imagine having to pay for it prior to finding out whether it’s relevant or will be used in your essay?  One way forward is Open Access

Open Access may seem as a hard term to get around but it simply means content that is “digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions” (Suber, 2015). It is a broad academic movements that is trying to ensure and free and open online access to academic information (, 2016). Open Access is trying to remove price barriers to promote research development.

Below is a quick video guide to Open Access. I found this video particularly useful to understand what it meant and how it can affect different people.

Open Access Information host a range of advantage and disadvantages to different people. The reader for example has access widely available information for free and on the other side the author can get their work published easily around the globe. The piktochart covers more points (my first piktochart!).

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In 2003 the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities (2003) was put forward to step closer to an Open Access World. As of 2016, there have been over 500 signatories.  The Declaration outlines two main ways of achieving this:

1. Golden Route

This route is to publish via publisher platforms. It is known as the paid route as costs of publishing are covered that either are by author, institution or academic funding. However, primarily its publishers like Wiley offering servers space to publish article, without access rights or copyright. According to the Finch Report (June, 2012) this is the most sustainable route in the long term as publishing is subjected to peer reviewing and made fully available on an open access journal or website (JISC, 2015)

2. Green Route

This route makes academic pieces available through a repository, which is a public accessible database managed by a research organisation. There is not much fee involved and articles are peer-reviewed (Jisc, 2015)


Overall there are many benefits and costs related to why there should and shouldn’t be Open Access. Personally I think that everyone should have the right to access scientific knowledge, this helps to improve education and bridge the development gap across demography.


Anon, (2003). Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 May 2016].

Jacobs, N. (2013). Gold and green routes to open access | Jisc. [online] Jisc. Available at: [Accessed 7 May 2016]. (2016). What is open access?. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 May 2016].

Suber, P. (2015). Peter Suber, Open Access Overview (definition, introduction). [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 May 2016].

The Drum. (2016). 90% of online content to be held behind paywalls in three years media company survey suggests. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 May 2016]. (2016). Open Access Coach. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 May 2016].


6 thoughts on “Open or Closed Access to Knowledge?

  1. Hi Shaheer !

    I liked the way you set out your blog, it was really easy to follow and understand the different principles of open access.
    Moving on from the general scholar vs reputable journal debate, I wanted to know what your take on the entertainment industry was.
    Artists get less money through streaming services compared to how much revenue they would gain from actual album/record sales.This article displays the exact reason why Taylor Swift pulled her music off Spotify: By using Spotify, Itunes, Netflix etc, artists avoid the issue of piracy by allowing people to access content for free whilst still providing the artist revenue. For free users of Spotify, this revenue is generated through short, targeted advertisements. You can even listen to a whole catalogue of music by paying a monthly subscription.
    Do you think Taylor Swift is right in being against Open Access? After all, she isn’t exactly losing heaps amount of money given her platform and current superstar status? Or do you think she has a right due to it being her own material and she therefore has intensified pressure to reply on single/album sales?
    Let me know what you think 🙂


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Vicky,

      Thanks for your comments on my blog 🙂 Really appreciated.

      My take on the entertainment industry is that although Streaming is great for customers who like to listen to music. It gives everyone a chance to listen to loads of music online, by either paying a monthly fee or free (through ads) and as you have mentioned it also reduces the issues of piracy.

      However, at the end of the day it’s the artist’s choice whether they want to be part of this revolution or not. In relation to Talyor Swift, I can’t say she is not against Open Access. However, she has her own reason and rights, whether it’s because she is losing some money or just wanting to have control of her music. It’s her own material, which therefore means the owner can sell it however they like it. Does it have effect on other people like us? Probably, as those albums and singles that are not available via Spotify or other streaming providers, we have to go and buy elsewhere.

      Thanks Vicky for you comment, it has really given me an insight to how issues of Open Access involves around music.



  2. Hey Shaheer, really enjoyed your post! When I read your first few lines, I agreed with the shock-inducing nature of your questions of “Imagine paying for every journal article when writing an essay and you don’t even know if it’s useful or not!” And then I thought about it… I do pay for that, and so do you as part of our university fees which cover the costs of these journals subscriptions – even of journals that we don’t even use! I completely agree with you that open access in research is a positive thing, however I do recognize certain issues with it, for example quality of research, as I have found from personal experience that the majority of open access articles I’ve encountered have been from foreign institutes, filled with spelling and grammatical errors, and sometimes I found that their content was not applicable to what I was investigating. For example I had to research project management issues in the British construction industry, and the only articles I could find were open access and were to do with the topic I needed but in the context of third world countries, so I thought that would be a limitation as I wasn’t sure how their theory could be applied to the UK. Having said that, the only articles I could find on such a specific topic were open access ones, so I guess its benefits outweighed its cons in this case.

    Liked by 1 person

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