Topic five – Is an educational author going to benefit from making their work openly available online?


Don’t worry, this blog is free to read.


Academic literature is a much changing field, with the internet being “frequently compared to the printing press” (Wiley et al, 2012) as a publishing tool, with the cost of re producing books decreasing from $250 (transcribed by hand) to $0.0008 (copying an online version).

The large increase of production of academic literature, which is largely publicly funded (Harnad, 2012), alongside the new format it appears on, has created debate over whether all new academic content should be freely available. Harnad (2012) goes on to describe 3 ways in which research can be made open access, which are described in figure 1 below.


Figure 1: S Hanard (2012) 3 ways of creating online access in academic publications. Arthur Boulding 2016.

These 3 separate paths in which open access can be created have both supportive and contrasting relations to each other (Weller, 2013), which can help describe the positives and negatives of open access;


The video below (video 1) displays the 7 ways Weller (2013) suggests that open access can be beneficial for an educational author.

Video 1: 7 motivations for oppenness. Arthur Boulding 2016.

Alongside the clear advantage that was stated in the introduction regarding the price of production being cheaper, the wider audience that will be reached could be seen as a very self-fulfilling benefit.

Skoll World Forum (2013) notes the importance of the Khan Academy providing education materials at no cost to the student. This creates education free of discrimination, assuming the student will have access to the internet which 40% of the world do, with this figure ever increasing. Skoll World Forum (2013) further exemplify this by the range of classroom innovations in less developed areas of South Africa and Peru, with the lowered cost of educational resources benefiting less privileged students.


The most notable disadvantage to an author would be the exploitation of their work, by not making money from people reading their content, with copyright meaning the internet was “born at a severe disadvantage” (Wiley et al, 2012).

Focusing on “customers” rather than “students” may lead to financial gains being prioritised over education benefits, causing conflicting opinions among interest groups (Weller, 2013) and an ambiguous form for which one’s research should be presented: A series of blogs? Previously used academic Journals?


Given all the evidence the pros hugely out way the cons, with the reasons research is conducted being fulfilled: The spreading of your own knowledge to a wide range of others and the collaboration of numerous academics work being shared and compiled in order to improve existing structures.

Word Count: 405.


[image] Ellsworth D. Foster ed. The American Educator (vol. 6)(Chicago, IL: Ralph Durham Company, 1921) available at Ellsworth D. Foster ed. The American Educator (vol. 6)(Chicago, IL: Ralph Durham Company, 1921) accessed on: 11/12/16.

Harnad S, 2012, There’s no justifying Research Council UK’s support for gold open access, The Guardian, available at: accessed on: 11/12/16.

Internet Live Stats, available at: accessed on: 11/12/16.

Skoll World Forum, 2013, Forbes, available at:, accessed on: 9/11/16.

Weller M, 2013, What sort of open do you want?, available at: accessed on 11/12/16.

Wiley et al, 2012, Dramatically Bringing down the Cost of Education with OER: How Open Education Resources Unlock the Door to Free Learning, Center for American Progress, available at, accessed on 9/11/2016.



7 thoughts on “Topic five – Is an educational author going to benefit from making their work openly available online?

  1. Hi Arthur,

    I really like your blog post and think that in incorporates a lot of key factors. The discussion in the ‘disadvantages’ surrounding ‘customers’ not students is an interesting one. How you ever been researching and come across and article in a journal which isn’t pre=paid by the university? I have, and I normally ignore it and move on, regardless of the potential benefits within. Do you have the same way of thinking or do you instead pay? Coupled with this, do you think that as a whole, students see themselves as victims of these paywalls or instead brush over the blocks put in place?

    I think that the issues you raise about education being ‘free of discrimination’ is an important one. It gives online users the potential to learn and explore academia free of financial restraints, which in a constant globalising world, is key for people to learn skills or information, which previously was unavailable. Would you agree?


  2. Hi Alex and thanks for commenting.

    I have indeed come across journals which aren’t covered in university subscriptions (although very rarely) and likewise I tend to ignore them as I imagine many students would (given our infamous financial circumstances). It is a real shame though, not only for me as a student who cannot use their work for my undergraduate studies, but also for other academics looking to collaborate in order to make differences to the world, surely a significant reason they set out to conduct the research in the first place!

    I would say students would be victims of paywalls on the whole, however from my experience it doesn’t hinder my research too much. Could this be different at other universities who have fewer journal subscriptions perhaps?

    I agree that education free of discrimination is increasingly important, as you mention the world is becoming increasingly connected (or smaller) and I therefore believe we must share knowledge with our counterparts, if we do not it may in turn detriment us in the future. Education is vital in sharing our knowledge, not just in children and young adults but also in experience professionals. Do you think we are seeing enough global learning currently or will it increase?


  3. Hi Arthur,

    A witty opening as always!

    You conclude that the pros of releasing the content for free outweighs the pros for the producer. Your conclusion appears to be based on the assumption that academics are not motivated by profit. What makes you think this? In my field of study – Economics, I would be more inclined to assume that the financial motive would be (at least partially) what drives the academic to publish work. Furthermore, in my blog, i discuss how paywalls can be a way of authenticating work, perhaps this is reflected by academics widely used policy of charging for their work. I’d also suggest that the money made from people buying access to the work could be used to increase the standard/scope of subsequent studies. Do you agree with this rationale?

    I am asking you is why do you think the pros outweigh the cons? I’d love to hear your thoughts without the restriction of the word count of the main blog.

    words 165


  4. Hi Zac, thanks for commenting.

    I would like to think that most university level academics are in the job for reasons beyond profit, they would want to conduct research which would have implementations that can change the world for the best. If they truly wanted to make financial gain then the private sector is much more lucrative, especially with an economics background. This is not to say that financial motivation doesn’t encourage them in any way, I’ve no doubt universities offering higher pay will attract a higher calibre of researcher and putting food on the table is still a priority, but were they truly financially motivated they would not be in this profession.

    I would disagree that money used from subscriptions to academic papers would increase the standard, mainly because I believe that a wider audience and increased participation rate would be more beneficial to a body of work, as can be seen in the video in the blog, rather than a smaller financial gain. I would imagine the institution the researcher is employed by would provide all the materials necessary to make the research as strong as possible, therefore financial gain from subscriptions may not be too beneficial to the standard of research itself.

    I personally believe that there are many more pros to open access in academic work, as demonstrated by the previously mentioned 7 ways Weller (2013) suggests it is beneficial, whereas only one disadvantage appeared from my research. The disadvantage should not be ignored, for an academics work to be exploited, or even worse misinterpreted (as is all too often in this day and age) can be very damaging, however the larger the audience reached and greater rates of collaboration would massively improve and develop work in most academic fields.


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