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Library - Open Access: Benefits of Open Access

Importance of Open Access

Open access is rooted in the ethical principle of information being unchained, supporting the belief that knowledge is an inalienable human right guaranteed to all. John Willinsky explained that open access is founded on the moral imperative that each person should be guaranteed an opportunity to "...exercise [their] right to know what is known." Open access seeks to eliminate or reduce the barriers of cost and copyright that restrict access to information and the knowledge it confers. In 2013, a White House memorandum to federal agencies noted scientific research "catalyzes innovative breakthroughs that drive our economy" and lauded the value of open access to research to spur "understanding and exploit discovery." Open access offers researchers around the world access to content that would otherwise be hidden behind pay walls. Here are some resources that provide a more in-depth exploration of the importance and value of open.

Benefits for an Institution

  • Collects and preserves its research output and disseminates it through the institutional repository
  • Provides the possibility of indexing and tracking the research output of the institution from international search engines on the Internet, like Google etc.
  • Monitors the number of visits and use and collects data and indicators that can be used in institutional planning, and the search for sources of funding etc.
  • Provides opportunities for the use and re-use of the institution’s output for research purposes 
  • Boosts international communication, supports collaboration channels and bolsters the institution’s international profile
  • Makes African research more accessible and visible

Benefits for Researcher / Author

  • Increases the visibility of research and citations. Outputs available on an Open Access basis have a citation advantage over those available only in toll-based publications
  • Increases the usage of research.  The more outputs available on an Open Access basis, the less frustration researchers will experience in finding details of articles that look interesting, but to which their institution does not subscribe (even the most well-funded academic libraries cannot subscribe to every academic journal).  Open Access also offers the researcher a greater opportunity to do more with their research outputs (traditional publishing often requires you to sign away all copyright in your outputs, limiting what you can do with them)
  • Increases the impact of research. The greater availability of your outputs provided by Open Access increases the possibilities of your research being found and new research collaborations being formed and more and more funders of research are requiring that outputs arising from research they fund be made available on an Open Access basis
  • Allows each researcher to obtain a permanent link for each of their research outputs

Benefits to Community

  • Greater access to research outputs without the often prohibitive costs associated with traditional publishing.
  • No requirement for passwords or other forms of authentication.
  • Greater access to academic research findings for those researchers, academic and professional, who work outside academia (or in smaller institutions) who would not otherwise have straightforward access to those findings.
  • Ensures that those who actually provide the money for publicly-funded research  have access to the outputs they have funded.