Is open access a good thing?

We were asked to do a blog about open access journals which I think are incredibly important in making information accessible. One of the points brought up in our communicating science class was how important sharing our research is.  If we can’t share it, does it really mean anything?  The answer is no and open access journals speak to this.  What better way to reach a global audience quickly and efficiently than putting the information on-line.  I do understand, however, that some drawbacks do exist.  First, One example of a good open access journal (in my opinion)-BMC veterinary Research.  This is an open access journal focusing on a variety of topics related to veterinary medicine.  It has a good impact factor (at least as far as veterinary journals go) and is peer-reviewed.  They are part of the overarching BMC series (BioMed Central) which is an open access publisher of subject-specific journals.  There is a whole page dedicated to their explanation of open access and why they support such an entity.  For example, they suggest that publishing in their open access journal allows you to reach a much more global audience.  They also discuss the fact that open access publishing on-line increases the speed of publication and increases the flexibility with which they can accommodate your research (i.e. makes it easier to publish larger data sets, images, etc.).

 

On the other hand, one of the critiques that I have heard regarding open access research is whether or not it might undermine peer review and/or diminish the quality of research published. I can definitely see where this idea might come from, however, I feel that we as readers need to be critical of what we are reading.  And this really is no different from “closed-access journals”.  However, in reading up for this blog post, I found that open access has made it easier for “predatory open access publishers”.  In my searches I came across “Beall’s List of Predatory Publishers 2015” (http://scholarlyoa.com/2015/01/02/bealls-list-of-predatory-publishers-2015/). Though I think predatory journals have always existed, I think the popularity and overall support of open access publishing has allowed these predatory journals to increase and maybe seem less obvious.  However, again, I don’t necessarily think that this is a huge negative for open access.  We just need to continue to be critical thinkers and always consider what we are reading and why/if we believe it.

One thought on “Is open access a good thing?”

  1. I agree with you. Even when we do not have open access, there are a lot of journal papers that are badly written. One of the recent papers I wrote had numerous grammatical errors to the extent that it was difficult to make meaning out of the written text at some places. The author’s worldview did not align with the methods adopted to answer the research questions.

    I think open access will make research access to many more people who can benefit from that knowledge. Kudos to open access!

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