Topic 5 – Open Access?

Open access can be defined as making the products of research freely accessible and available to all (HEFCE, 2017).

When I think of the internet; open access almost immediately goes hand in hand in my opinion. Using the internet comes with very few entry barriers and requires little to no understanding of all the background coding that makes it work and function.However as of recent years’ internet has become subject to subscription based services and paid to read published works.

(Wiley, 2014)


One of the main reasons against having scientific research and academia set as open access is the lack of incentive for academics. When one publishes a journal or paper they have usually spent a considerable amount of time invested into its creation. Given this opportunity cost, to an extent it is only understandable why one would want to ensure some sort of payment for their publication. Furthermore, this is supported by the study which stated 90% of online content will be behind paywalls (Lepitak, 2013).

However, in accordance with open source material there are many freely open channels of content distribution such as YouTube, Spotify, WordPress and many others. Nevertheless, many of these open content sites generate revenue for themselves or the content producers by promoting ad revenue across content streams ensuring, although everyone is freely able to watch they must first be subject to watching an advert. Open access content hasn’t just affected academia is has heavily affected the entertainment sectors.

This change in content distribution was largely due to illegal activity through services such as Napster and LimeWire based upon the ideal all web content should be freely availably.  When discussing open accessing developing an advantages and disadvantages comparison is key to looking at the effect of open access.

Screen Shot 2017-05-09 at 14.36.49

(Figure 1: Self created)

Looking at open access from an academic perspective; freely and easily available content could result in better educating a generation of students.  Open access could be playing a key role in the reinvention of the classroom experience (Forbes, 2013). Khan Academy is a prime example of education through open access. Created by Salman Khan he has created a non-profit company with over 100 employees that is used by over 40 million students across the world. (KhanAcademy, 2017)

From an individual perspective, I wanted to see how I use open access content in-comparison to paid content. I realised that I mainly used free access educational material and often only paid for entertainment or media subscription based services.

Content distribution-2

(Figure 2: Self created)

Overall, there are multiple advantages and disadvantages dependent on which content producer you are. Open Access is incredibly benefical towards the spread of data and knowledge ultimatly creating a knowledge base around a aprticualr concept. Although in the long run to be better effective and supported one needs to look as the fiscal oppurnites gained through content production.


HEFCE, (2017) –

Wiley, (2014) –

Lepitak, S. (2013) –…/90-online-content-be-held-behind-paywalls-three-years-media-company-survey-suggests

Forbes, (2013) –…/education-finally-ripe-for-radical-innovation-by-social-entrepreneurs

Khan Academy (2017) –



7 thoughts on “Topic 5 – Open Access?

  1. Hi Ausaf,

    Thanks for an enjoyable read. I really liked the personal touch you added by exploring what content services you use for free as well!

    It’s interesting you brought up entertainment services like Spotify, I didn’t actually think of that one even though it’s a service I use daily! Taylor Swift amongst other artists have been openly vocal about the problems with Spotify and how it doesn’t generate profits for musicians as much as selling records does. I have to say I disagree with her and feel she is missing the point slightly. This article here ( states how important it is for musicians to utilise streaming services, especially lesser known ones. Do you think that Spotify is beneficial to the music industry? Or do you think it is as problematic as film piracy is to film production?

    (Word count: 144)


    1. Hi Caiti,
      Thanks so much for reading my post this week and I’m glad you enjoyed it. I believe Spotify is incredibly important in this current day and age. Looking to an article published by the European Commission regarding music sales and illegally download music Spotify has heavily reduced the proportion of illegally downloaded music. Looking at that point alone at least it shows that if there is a reasonable legal alternative to illegally downloading music consumers would rather choose the legal option. However, when looking at individual music sales whether this is through iTunes, CDs or any other form of music sales these have decreased since the Spotify has grown. Granted this takes away a certain proportion of earnings for artists I still believe that given that many consumers have switched from illegally downloading music to at least listening through Spotify content creators are still benefitting. Furthermore, Spotify or other music streaming services has allowed for many independent content creator to reach a far wider audience without requiring influence from large studios. The same can be said to an extent for Netflix as many more consumers are opting to use Netflix as an alternative to illegally downloading content. Although this is not on the same scale it has made a beneficial difference for film producers and a reduction in film piracy.
      Many thanks,
      European Commision Article:


      1. It’s really interesting you brought up the fact that Spotify can propel artists without the influence of big studios. A good example of this is recently Chance the Rapper became the first ever person to win a Grammy for Best Album with just a streaming only album. You make a good point about Spotify and Netflix helping to tackle illegal streaming, I think this is definitely the way forward! With this in mind, can you see CDs and DVDs becoming obsolete in the near future?


  2. Hi Ausaf,

    I really enjoyed your blog post, especially the infographic you self-produced! I also appreciate how you looked at the topic from a media standpoint as well, and added your own personal experiences with it.

    You mentioned that you mainly use open access educational material, and usually only pay for subscription based entertainment and media services. While there are a lot of “open access” media content out there, many are based on subscription fees (Netflix, Spotify, Hulu, etc.). Do you believe that there’s a difference between why you choose to pay for what you do, i.e. you hold entertainment value higher than education? When there are those pushing for open access in academic journals and articles, do you think it’s right that media and entertainment services are straying in the opposite direction, and asking for subscription fees (YouTube Red)?

    I look forward to hearing your thoughts!


    (Word count: 148)


    1. Hi Andy,
      Thanks so much for reading my post and I’m glad that your enjoyed reading it. I don’t believe that I hold entertainment to a higher value in comparison to media however I consume them in different proportions. For example, I pay for Spotify per month as I find myself consistently listening to music whether that be driving, in the gym or simply studying, I find from a pure utilitarian prospective I utilise a paid subscription to Spotify far more than I would a one off academic journal. I feel given the way in which the market operates those who distribute media have a far wider audience who are willing to pay for their service in comparison to those willing to pay for academic journals. However, for a service such as YouTube which built up an audience through user created content distributed to other users asking for a subscription fees seem inconsistent and is only beneficial for a few producers and a small proportion of consumers. I would like to know your opinions on whether you believe all this content should be made open access despite audience size and demand.
      Many thanks,


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