Tag Archives | Open Access

Open Access and MOOCs – disrupting academia

Research set outs to explore the impact of disruptive innovations on academia and teaching.

Green and Gold models of Open Access (OA) have been growing steadily over the last decade.  An estimated 17% of articles indexed in ISI’s Web of Knowledge index are published in Gold OA journals; almost 7000 free online journals are currently listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) and it is estimated that 25% of peer reviewed research is already deposited by authors in open archives.

A new study by Richard Wellen (published in SAGE Open) sets out to explore the consequences of moves towards the ‘new digital academic commons’ in the shape of OA publishing, megajournals and Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs).


The value of knowledge is best realised when it is shared.  It is beneficial for society to create an ‘academic commons’ to facilitate the reciprocal use of knowledge.  Scholarly journals have an important role here, but high prices and other barriers to access can exclude many. The drive towards OA comes from a consensus about the importance of openness for progress and productivity.

Wellen asks whether and how OA could bring a disruptive challenge to the market power of publishers and to what extent new academic platforms and other intermediaries will take on such roles as quality control, filtering and content discovery.


  • Stakeholders have embraced OA as a solution to ‘dysfunctional’ publishing models and as a way to maximise the impact of research
  • Open content and ‘academic unbundling’ look set to transform the economics and social structure of higher education and research communication
  • Megajournals, academic networking services and MOOCs are all linked to a market-oriented reform of academic governance
  • An emerging ‘gift’ economy in academic content is linked to new ways of commodifying academic services
  • Researchers still place a high value on journal prestige
  • Some library functions may move to independent services operating at a trans-institutional level
  • Despite being open, MOOCs are meant to earn revenue
  • MOOCs have become marketing tools for universities
  • Politicians want to address cost, access and productivity issues in HE e.g. by loosening the link between teaching and research ranking
  • Academic unbundling raises challenges for the governance of academic commons

You can access the full article Open Access, Megajournals, and MOOCs: On the Political Economy of Academic Unbundling here.

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Digital natives, digital immigrants and the information professional

It is now over ten years since Mark Prensky coined the terms ‘digital natives’ and ‘digital immigrants’ and called for changes in education and teaching to reflect the new digital landscape.  The terms were easy to understand.  We all knew whether we were natives or immigrants by our use of the word ‘digital’ as a prefix (as in “I have a new digital camera”).

In the years since Prensky published his paper, new labels (e.g. Gen Y/millennials) have emerged for the younger generations entering education and the workforce.  We have discussed how to support them and how to get the best out of them.  But just how useful are these labels and what is the role of the information professional in ensuring that our users can use digital technologies to maximum effect?

This topic was tackled at the first NetIKX event of 2013.  Karen Blakeman and Graham Coult explored current research and trends in information behaviours and sparked discussions about the changing role of the information professional.

Forget the labels

Just because they were brought up with some of these technologies, this does not make the ‘younger generation’ experts.  According to David Griffiths, we should not… “confuse tech savvy, tethering to mobile technology and an intimate relationship with Facebook, with transferable knowledge and skills around social networking and communication.”

Karen reminded us that, irrespective of the technologies available to us at the time, we all needed to be guided in information searching and research techniques.   Young people are image driven and interested in original sources, she explained but need support in filtering and evaluating what they find.

We must also keep in mind that the internet is NOT available to everyone and that in these economically challenged times, many younger people do not have access to the internet at home, while local library resources are also being squeezed.  Digital exclusion is still a major issue.

This explosion of content and tools should, in theory, open up opportunities for information professionals to offer guidance, filtering and curation to users as trusted intermediaries.   The challenge is to convince others that our services are financially and socially valuable.

Find out more about NetIKX here.

Karen Blakeman’s slideshow presentation is available here.


Interview with Stevan Harnad – 2010 the Tipping Point for Universal Open Access?

Open access advocate Stevan Harnad looks back over the progress made by the OA movement to date, in a detailed and far-reaching interview with Richard Poynder for Information Today. Harnad speculates as to whether 2010 will see the tipping point needed to usher in universal open access, with the aim of getting the 2.5 million articles a year that are published in 25,000 peer-reviewed journals all freely available online.

Harnad is realistic in his assessment of the progress made to date: “…the history of OA so far has been one of gratuitous over-reaching that has not only netted little, but it has failed even to grasp what has already been well within reach for some time: free online access to refereed reseach.” But he is cautiously optimisitic about the initiatives underway in 2010.