Students have an especially large stake in the debate about access to research. Expanding access will pay great dividends to students in a variety of ways:
- A complete education: students in any discipline need access to the latest research to have a complete education in their field of study and hit the ground running after graduation. Limited access to research makes students settle for the information that is available rather than that which is most relevant. Open Access can ensure students get the best possible education and are not artificially limited by the selection of scholarly journals their campuses are able to provide.
- If your professors can’t read it, they can’t teach it: when professors can’t access the most recent research, they are deprived of the opportunity to bring that material into the classroom. With science advancing at an ever-increasing pace, it’s crucial that professors have access to cutting-edge research, so students’ education isn’t outdated before they even finish a course.
- The current system puts students from smaller schools at a disadvantage: due to the staggering price of journal subscriptions, not even the largest, most well-funded institutions can provide their students with the complete scholarly record. Students at smaller or less well-funded colleges and universities must make do with their fraction of access their library can afford. Students at community colleges, who are a significant portion of students in higher education, suffer even more severely.
- Researching beyond the degree: many students, especially on the graduate level, pursue degrees in order to become qualified researchers. Whether they become professors, doctors, lawyers, or entrepreneurs, they will continuously rely on access to research in order to make an impact in their respective field. Yet, students' access to journals expires along with their library card at graduation. If they take a job at another university, that institution may have a very different level of access than what they need, and if they take a job outside of the university setting, they will no longer have the library to provide them any access to journals.
Learn more about Open Access and student-led advocacy with The Right to Research Coalition.
Adapted from Why Open Access by The Right to Research Coalition.