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ARTH 400: Criticism and Research: Theory and Method

What is open access research?

Open access research is research that doesn't exist behind pay walls. Pay walls are anything that requires you to pay money to access the content. Many scholarly journal articles require someone to pay money for access to that research content. Usually it's the college or university, through the library, who pays for access to the articles. A library can't afford to pay for access to everything that is being published, so some research articles have to be requested through interlibrary loan or paid for by individuals.

Open access books and articles are different. Anyone can access them for free. However, it's important to evaluate their quality before you use them in your research (you should do this with all sources of research and information, regardless of how you obtain it).

Qualities to consider

  • Who wrote it? Do they work for a college, university, or research center? Do they have a PhD in the subject field? Google them or look them up on LinkedIn to find out more information about them.
  • Which company or organization published the book or article? Is it a university press? Look up the company and find out what kind of content they publish.
  • Is there a conflict of interest or bias present that might influence the research results? For example, Coca Cola paid for research that concluded that high-fructose corn syrup doesn't contribute to obesity. Since Coca Cola makes money on beverages that contain high-fructose corn syrup, any research they pay for related to their products has a conflict of interest.
  • Is there a bibliography or list of sources at the end of the article or book? How many sources do they have? Are they books, articles, blogs, websites, etc.? The sources for the article or book should be primarily other books and scholarly journal articles rather than blogs, websites, newspapers, etc.