Despite today’s digital world, research papers can be difficult to access or may be hidden behind paywalls for students and academics alike. Authors can often find themselves requiring subscriptions to access their own work, which can have a stifling effect on academic progress across all disciplines.
Veronica Stivala from THINK magazine uncovers what is happening in retaliation against this hoarding of information.
Large media companies have a tight hold over most of the academic literature produced today. One of the largest, Elsevier, a Netherlands-based publishing house, is responsible for a colossal 18% of the world’s research output, generating millions in profits every year. These revenues are made at the expense of taxpayers and are facilitated by universities who provide premium content with very little return on investment.
The Open Access Repository at the University of Malta (OAR@UM) aims to change this.
Launched in 2014 by the Director of Library Services, Kevin Ellul, the OAR@UM allows academics and authors to upload research content, enabling access for anyone with an internet connection. The library currently includes over 56,000 submissions, including peer reviewed articles. Ellul’s goal is to facilitate academics of the University of Malta to publish their work internally, and he feels ‘it is their duty to do so.’
With the long-term success of academic careers held in the hands of high-profile journals, a systemic change is required by both universities and authors for this protracted open access battle to succeed. It is not a question of if universities will join the fight to regain control of academic content, but a question of when.