Positioning open access in a transformative paradigm

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University of Cape Town

This paper positions open access in a transformative worldview, advocating for the democratisation of scholarly communication processes to support equitable dissemination of and access to knowledge. The traditional scholarly communication (publishing) model demands the signing away of copyright, which makes publishers own research and demand subscription fees from readers to access research publications. This alienates knowledge from users as they are required to pay unaffordable fees to be able to access knowledge, which excludes readers from low-income countries, thus compromising their use of knowledge for community development. The exclusion of readers who cannot afford subscriptions indicate some form of capitalism in the form of knowledge commodification; and, open access challenges such dominant experiences by promoting access for all. Therefore, open access plays a democratic role that have great potential to support social justice agenda. All aspects of critical theory reflect in both closed publishing and open access publishing, with closed publishing model alienating readers and open access publishing creating opportunities for transformation and social justice by opening up knowledge for readers that cannot afford journal subscription fees.