If you are on a college or university campus, you are able to
access all the journals that your institution may have subscribed
to. This has the advantage that for most of the material on your
reading list, it is a matter of just getting the citation details
and fire up your browser, go to your library online portal, search
it, and voila you are in business!
But what do you do when you find yourself either off-campus or at
an institution which did not subscribe to the journal you want?
In such cases, your best option would be to use a VPN and log into
your institution’s library using the login details supplied by your
institution’s I.T. department.
Or, give up?
You may be tempted to settle for just simple web searches, or bet
on your stars and find alternate sources using Google Scholar.
However, it appears there is a growing movement towards creation of
open access journals. These are high-quality journals that also
publish peer-reviewed articles on a number of subjects.
The advantage with them is that for a researcher, there is no need
to be subscribed to get them.
The idea was pioneered by Wikipedia, which is an open access
encyclopaedia where anyone can access the information on any
So MDPI, a Swiss-based academic publisher, produces over 200 open
access journals on any field ranging from natural to social
sciences. Authors are the ones who contribute to the publications,
so as a scholar (be it a student or a researcher) you simply pick
your area of interest, subscribe to any journal you like and access
The advantage with this approach is that information is freely
available to anyone at no cost. So for students and professional
researchers alike, there is no barrier created by a paywall
The setback of course is the familiar one: Unreliability. In fact,
Wikipedia is still considered as an unreliable source of
information by some publishers and academics, as anyone can simply
edit it. this is unlike traditional publishing platforms where an
article goes through a rigorous vetting process before its release.
So expect to find attacks of open access journals by conventional
publishers and researchers on related grounds. As long as there are
journals that stick to convention and those that adopt new ways of
production, such rivalry is bound to happen.
However, for any student, it is advisable that sometimes you have to
pay attention to the research question you will be addressing. Even
though taking part in these discussions is illuminating and offers new
perspectives on what quality research ought to be, you have to take
advantage of open access publishing to submit articles on any topic
that interests you.
In conclusion, consider expansion of your research horizons by
generally reading beyond your reading lists. Reading lists are only a
starting point to your research, but they do not define the extent of
your boundaries. Open Access research and publishing offer you as a
researcher with new sources of information and opportunities to
create knowledge by also publishing in them.