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.Conclusions

  • 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.[Follow Val Skelton on Google+]