The amount of content created every day is astronomical when looking across all online platforms. The info-graphic below helps demonstrate just how much this equates to!

data never sleeps

(Tepper, 2012)

However, let’s focus this onto academia and the pros/cons of content producers making their publications freely available.


Creating free content in the realm of education is a topic in which it is easy to see the pros and cons. If the motive behind the producer of academic content is not for financial gain then there are numerous additional reasons to support open access. With the access to knowledge, the only barrier is an internet connection. ‘It is possible for anyone to learn anything that they are interested in, with the online resources available’ (Rachelimrq, 2014). This isn’t limited to academic articles, demonstrated by the production of youtube tutorial videos on everything from playing musical instruments to applying makeup. ‘This is how shared knowledge multiplies, and it adds value to every individual who benefited from this free materials’ (Rachelimrq, 2014). As Rachel makes clear, free access leads to more exposure which in her view, benefits every party involved.


A video below shows the basic benefits of ‘open access’ to creators and viewers alike.

Video Self-Created using Powtoon (Welch, 2016)


However what are the costs to a creator from making their work free?

Creators may have to pay a publication charge if submitting to leading journals. A disadvantage of open access is that the creator receives no revenue for their free publication meaning if they do not have an academic body funding them, then they will have to pay to make their work free.’ A problem addressed in the video is that ‘publishers also worry about who is accessing their work, they don’t want their materials misquoted or falsely represented’ (Higgins, 2014). Open access tries to protect against this through the promotion of citation academic journals, however it is hard to stop people ‘ripping’ off your work if there is significant ease of access.

After briefly discussing some of the pros and cons of free educational content, what is the online movement towards paywalls (payment for content)?



Image Two: Self-Produced (Welch, 2016)

If the majority of online content is ‘expected to be behind paywalls in the next three years’ (Lepitak, 2013) then is the publication of academic work going to move away being free and easily accessible? Let me know your thoughts on: a) What’s best for online educational content b) The effect of paywalls on this (positive and negative) c) Personal experiences with any of the aforementioned!

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Lepitak, S (2013) 90% of online content to be held behind paywalls in three years media company survey suggests Available at: 

Rachelimrq (2014) Available at:

Higgins, L (2014) Available at:

Image One. Tepper, A. (2012). How Much Data Is Created Every Minute? Available at:

Image Two. Welch (2016) Self-created using piktochart

Video. Welch (2016) Self-created using Powtoon