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What's Open Access Good For? Absolutely everything!

The Authorea Team

Research: the process by which we understand the world, ourselves, and other phenomena ranging from the alpha helix of a protein to the societal movements in politics is what life is.  That may be a bit too grandiose, but research is an integral part of advancing humankind forward.

Said differently, research is the engine by which progress occurs.  Yet, performing successful research is something that is not easy. Unlocking the secrets of life is a laborious task and it requires cooperation amongst people in real time as well as those that came before us.  Key to this progress is clarity, completeness, and access.  One might guess that this is the what defines the research publishing community.  One might be wrong.

Scholarly research is for the most part locked behind expensive paywalls in forms that resemble more of something like a trophy than a document used for conveying important of pieces of research in the best manner possible.  While there are lots of things occurring in scholarly research that don't make sense, one blatant one stands out.  We charge researchers to access other researchers documents-- not in the name of sustainability, but in the name of profit.  In fact, we had to invent a word to describe a publication process that is conducive to research: open access.  What is #OpenAccess and what is it good for?  Absolutely everything, as far as research is concerned.


Open Access is common sense, but not common place.

Most of the world's research exists behind a paywall.  Tens of millions of documents locked behind exorbitant prices ranging from $25 for seven days of access to $59 dollars for one article.  Paywall technology is even "advancing" to the point that articles you purchase can't be downloaded or printed.

One researcher in Iran openly said he steals research articles because to be able to read what he would need to read to do research would cost thousands of dollars per week. He's not alone either: there are millions of people illegally gaining access to research articles. The fact that it is illegal is the problem.

But things are improving. Despite the fact that most articles still exist behind a paywall, year over year more articles appear open access-- they can be read and reused.  They go from a trophy that serves little value to researchers to something that is functional, that is to the benefit of research, not the detriment.