Funders invest in research to advance human knowledge and ultimately improve lives. Open Access increases the return on that investment by ensuring the results of the research they fund can be read and built on by anyone.
Breakthroughs often come from unexpected places; the Theory of Relativity was developed by a patent clerk. Open Access expands the number of potential contributors to research from just those at institutions wealthy enough to afford journal subscriptions to anyone with an internet connection.
Researchers benefit from having the widest possible audience. Researchers provide their articles to publishers for free, because their compensation comes in the form of recognition for their findings. Open Access means more readers, more potential collaborators, more citations for their work, and ultimately more recognition.
The research enterprise itself benefits when the latest techniques can be easily used. For years, we have had powerful text and data mining tools that can analyze the entire research literature, uncovering trends and connections that no human reader could. While publishers’ technical and legal barriers currently prevent their widespread use, Open Access empowers anyone to use these tools, which hold the potential of revolutionizing how research is conducted.
Even the best ideas remain just that until they are shared, until they can be utilized by others. The more people that can access and build upon the latest research, the more valuable that research becomes and the more likely we are to benefit as a society. More eyes make for smaller problems.
SPARC. (2007-2016). Open Access. Retrieved October 22, 2016 from http://sparcopen.org/open-access/