Open Access (OA) is resources or allowing resources to be openly (as opposed to closed, clandestinely held, or shut) available to users without restrictions or requirements for authentication or payment. OA initiatives ensure that any information that is deemed helpful to the society is opened up to the community.
From the scholarship point of view, the focus for the OA drive would be to have the all the academic articles published from renowned journals, and that researchers and scholars in the institutions need, be made openly accessible. There would be an incredible cost saving from the exorbitant prices imposed on the purchase or subscription to such journals. The money saved can be channeled to other uses. This can be made possible especially because most of the research publications are from research that has already been funded by other agencies. Achieving the OA from the scholarship point of view can be done by negotiating with the academics and researchers who publish those journals to openly avail them (divide and rule), or by negotiating with the publishers to publish the journals in OA.
What are the advantages that you gain as an individual by availing your materials for Open Access? I will give three reasons. One, you will be fulfilling your moral duty and obligation to the society for giving back to them. Recognising that the research that you undertook would not have been possible were it not of the society that was there. This is in the premise that there is no research that is done in a ‘vacuum’ or on an ‘island’ without people. Secondly, you are empowering others, who would otherwise not be. This in a way will create a fertile ground for you to do further research, and also get some feedback from more people who might have been looked out by lack of access to your research. Thirdly, you are fulfilling the very reason of your research – solving problems for humanity. By locking your research finding to the few who can afford the prices, you are propagating human problems that you claim to solve in your research. People who can not afford to get your solutions will seek solutions using other means thereby allowing unnecessary duplication of efforts and costs.
I maintain that providing open or free access to your course content empowers you, as you will get feedback, and it does not in anyway debar you. There are examples of Open Courseware Initiatives (OCI) that one can emulate. The widely refereed is the MIT. There is also a host of other organisations that have availed their materials openly and freely. Others have chosen to use the less restrictive licenses like the Creative Commons.
So do you have the knowledge power?