The Inaccessibility of Academic Research: Why we need a Research Revolution

The Problem with Academia is its Inaccessibility: Why is academic research so inaccessible?

The inaccessible nature of academic research has always been something that everyone here at Acaudio has struggled with. We live in a society that charges £9,000 a year to access education, within which access to academic research granted. It is wrong that people are unable to freely engage with important academic research being produced in educational institutions across the UK and beyond. Even within academia, the convoluted nature of academic papers often make their content inconsumable. This inaccessibility reflects the stark inequality that exists within society, resulting in differing intellectual, social and economic capital, and works to help sustain the system it creates. 

With academic research often stuck behind paywalls, the section of the population able to engage with, discuss, and relate to, academic work is limited and largely static. The benefits of allowing everyone to be able access academic research are threefold: improving the feedback and voices that contribute to critically analysing publications, allowing people to grow and learn in new ways, and increasing the impact of academic research. Engaging with academic work should always be a choice that people are able to freely make. The impact research has should never be determined by money. We ask, what is being done to address this, and from here, what can we do to make this a reality?

Understanding the Open Access and Open Research movement

Currently, widening participation in research is being shaped through an Open Access movement. To delve into this some more, it is worth exploring some key terms. 

What is Open Access? Open Access refers to the desire to provide free and open online access to academic work. It offers a publishing model for this, of which there are a few different routes: gold, green and diamond. The golden route involves publication via publisher platforms in full open access journals, of which a full list can be found on the Directory of Open Access Journals website. ‘Hybrid’ journals also exist, which are subscription based but allow Open Access publication via a payment of an Article Processing Charge (APC). The green route sees full texts of academic publications deposited in a trusted repository. The diamond route does not charge the author APCs, and is usually funded by library subsidy models, institutions or societies. 

What is Open Research? Open Research relates to the culture of sharing research outputs as early as possible in the research process, to allow for a more reflective and expansive feedback. 

Although the Open Access movement has recently gained momentum, more needs to be done. Universities and their libraries are indeed making a considerable effort to push their Open Access content, but the majority of publications remain behind paywalls.

Taking the Open Access movement further with Acaudio

While an increasing number of universities, publishers and institutions in the industry are noticing the benefit of Open Access, and widening engagement with academic work, there is a long way to go. The way that academic language can often be inaccessible in its written sense impacts the way it can be disseminated. Continuing to creatively explore ways to allow for the transfer of knowledge in society is crucial. 

There is an obvious way to make research even more accessible, and even easier to consume: by occupying the intersection between entertainment and academia. This is a space that Acaudio is filling and is paving the way to take this further. The potential here is quietly revolutionary for the academic space, but also for society. Allowing people access to research being produced in a way that is easy to consume immediately opens up the conversation on what can be discussed, and how this happens. In this way, Acaudio and making research accessible will provide an alternative to the domineering mainstream media establishment and the discourses and conversations it so easily creates, manipulates and controls. As Steve Biko said, “the most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed”.

Solving the problem of academic research being accessible has far reaching implications and represents a new way of revolutionising the way people think, and more importantly, are allowed to think. This is an exciting time, and here at Acaudio, we will continue to fight for a more equitable future that continues to question why access to knowledge is so restricted. Join us in this research revolution. 

“The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall.” Che Guevara