Topic 5 – Open Access Material: Is it a positive or a negative tool

Piled Higher and Deeper (2012) highlighted “open access as free immediate online availability of research articles with full reuse rights”. The low reproduction cost of digital material (digitalisation) compared to paper distribution has been a major driving force in the development and spread of open access models.


  • A study conducted by Wiley et al (2012) on behalf of the Centre for American Progress investigated the implications of Open Education Resources (OER) – “educational materials produced by one party that are licensed to be used free of charge by others” – in breaking down the financial barriers to education. They highlighted the success of OER in “maintaining the quality of learning material while significantly reducing the cost of the education”.
  • Open access tools allow content producers to co-create and collaborate with others to improve the quality of the material.


  • As a producer of the material you can lose control over who has access to your product.
  • As a producer of the material you can lose control over how individuals use or modify your service.

Examples of a positive case, Google’s digital garage:

Screen Shot 2017-05-07 at 15.43.41.png

Example of a negative case, YouTube:

The site provides many benefits to the users from providing entertainment, through ensuring they are kept up to date with news as well as educational material. The streaming service regularly removes content that they believe to be offensive or dangerous however, they have little control over the mass of content uploaded daily and the age of who has access.

In the spring of 2015 a social media challenge emerged where individuals tried to increase the size of their lips to mimic those of Kylie Jenner. Many took to video tutorials available en masse on sites such as YouTube to complete the challenge unaware of the negative health affect.

My Experience with an open access course during my time at university:

During my module MANG2064: Business Research part of our project development was supported through a MOOC via FutureLearn.

Despite the benefits of open access content, a study of 2,700 companies conducted by Simon-Kucher & Partners (via Stephen Lepitak, 2013) revealed that “90 per cent of online content would likely be held behind a paywall”. By introducing a subscription fee, you are allowing  a producer to invest more money into producing their content however, you are restricting the accessibility of material to the general population.

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3 thoughts on “Topic 5 – Open Access Material: Is it a positive or a negative tool

  1. Hi Mary,

    I found this post to be an insightful read, especially as the layout made it easier to identify the different sides of the debate towards Open Access. I also appreciate the video you made highlighting your personal experience with an MOOC, which is something I briefly spoke about on my blog.

    As any student may agree, paywalls can be very frustrating to come across. However, we tend to ignore how these can benefit the content producer. For instance, paywalls can be an excellent way to legitimize their work as where they may publish their work could be of higher quality, but of course with a price to access. Having said this, do you think it’s fair for content producers to freely distribute their work?

    Although you provide a great summary, I would like to know what your opinion on this topic is. Do you feel as though the advantages outweigh the disadvantages?

    Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and opinions on this!

    (167 words)


    1. Hi Carolina,

      Thank you for taking the time to read my post, I am glad that you enjoyed it! In response to your questions, I do believe that content producers should distribute their work freely. However, I wouldn’t go as far as to say the method will be “fair”, especially if they aren’t being financially supported elsewhere. Without this financial support, I believe the disadvantages of open access material outweigh the benefits.

      Thank you,



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