The commoditization or commodification of every good and service on the face of the earth has necessitated the debate on the pros and cons of open access. Humans are beginning to monetize every single thing in the name of making the most out of everything and that, I am afraid, has prompted a debate on the usefulness of open access.
Whether the ultimate reason why a scientist conducts his or her research is so the research can benefit humanity or for the selfish reward of being attributed as the originator of an idea, the truth is that every scientist wants his or her research to be out there. That is what open access seeks to achieve; to widen the scope of the people that have access to new research ideas. So why should there be a debate on this simple aim if not for the fact that some people want to be greedy about what they can line their pockets with?
At the rate at which the world is running towards commoditization or monetization, if care is not taken, cultures will be altered, accepted social patterns eroded and the very lives of humans and biodiversity weighed on balance scales. There is an app for almost everything now! I recently learned that I don’t even have to go grocery shopping. I can sit in the comfort of my home, pick up things from a store 20 miles or more away and have the things brought to my house in as short as an hour. Dating and relationship sites are now the norm, with people scamming others in the name of love, out of their hard earned money. How can you find true love if somebody sits behind a computer and makes money out of your chances of finding your quest? People get on social media and other apps to advertise their bodies and skills in bed, and legally make money out of making someone feel good digitally! How is that even possible? But let’s get back to the point though….
If humanity is going to benefit from scientific advancements through research, it is important that the process of scientific publication is made as fluid as possible. If open access is making this possible by ensuring that no one pays or at least no one pays too much to assess information, why should there be any setbacks?
This brings me to another off topic argument on whether public schools are actually public when they only make it possible for the rich to attend such schools. If a university is deemed a public land grant university, then I believe that every research conducted within the school premise should be made public. No one should have special access to its research and no groups of people should be exempted from its research too. It should be free for all. This means that every research conducted in the school should be open access!
Knowledge is meant to be shared freely to allow for others to think and improve on current research. I think that it is high time that all universities opened up all of its research to all and sundry. If the aim of science is to bring about positive change, then data should be shared freely and so should every research.
It is true that there is competition in today’s scientific world and therefore, it might make reasonable sense to keep certain information from certain people. But especially in the area of citizen science, there should be absolutely no cumbersome bureaucratic process that limits the spread of information. That is why I think every university should advocate for some sort of a personalized platform or should be a part of a group made up of like-minded universities that make their research open to everyone.