Making your content freely available is a great tactic to increase potential audience viewers and exposure (PHD Comics, 2012), people are much less likely to buy something before knowing if it’s any good (especially with no free returns). The advantages of open education resources (ERIC, 2012) exceed the producer’s benefit, as a highly educated population is associated with an array of positive externalities (see piktochart).
It is understandable that we should pay for online content from a business perspective, just as we would purchase a textbook or lessons. Without the incentive of profit, competition decreases and firms become more inefficient. Excluding the pursuit of knowledge and societal welfare, why would one enter a career path knowing you would not be compensated for it monetarily (money is the best work incentive), therefore making your material freely available may be a disadvantage. There is also the perception that if something is free it is not as valuable as something which costs money, giving the impression the content is not prestigious (PHD Comics, 2012). Another disadvantage is potential plagiarism, content being available to the public increases the likelihood of someone stealing your work and not crediting you.
Wikipedia is a perfect example of a platform providing free information which has benefitted plenty of users, resulting in a globally known website. Another platform with content freely available would be YouTube, some have created successful careers from this platform, I would watch Economics videos online to help me grasp concepts better. If the videos were not free to access, a lot of talented individuals would have never been discovered and the audience would not benefit from the content they wish to share.
It is expected 90% of content will soon be behind paywalls (The Drum, 2013), to limit potential researchers like this is detrimental for academics in my opinion. Is it ethical to determine who has a right to knowledge by placing extortionate monetary barriers?
I feel there are more advantages to making your work available online, it benefits those who read it and creates a better sense of community in the world of education. I do understand that some may not be able to absorb the costs themselves and cannot afford to do this, but the prices journals charge for papers is beyond unacceptable, creating an illusion that knowledge is only for the richest and elitist.
- The Drum, (2013), 90% of online content to be held behind paywalls in three years media company survey suggests, http://www.thedrum.com/news/2013/04/12/90-online-content-be-held-behind-paywalls-three-years-media-company-survey-suggests
- Piled Higher and Deeper (PHD Comics) (2012), Open Access Explained!, https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=L5rVH1KGBCY
- Currie, J. and Moretti, E. (2003) ‘Mother’s education and the intergenerational transmission of human capital: Evidence from college openings’, The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 118(4), pp. 1495–1532. doi: 10.1162/003355303322552856.
- Lochner, L. and Moretti, E. (2001) The effect of education on crime: Evidence from prison inmates, arrests, and self-reports. Available at: http://eml.berkeley.edu/~moretti/lm46.pdf (Accessed: 1 December 2016)
- Dee, T.S. (2003) ARE THERE CIVIC RETURNS TO EDUCATION? Available at: http://www.nber.org/papers/w9588.pdf (Accessed: 1 December 2016)
- ERIC, (2012), Dramatically bringing down the cost of education with PER: How open education resources unlock the door to free learning, http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED535639
- Wiley (2014), Understanding Open Access, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2HMouOV-Lg
- Powtoon, Tiffany To (2016), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfB8cofCAHY&rel=0
- Piktochart, Tiffany To (2016)