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Scholarly Communication: Benefits of Open Access

This guide defines Scholarly Communication, and its role in raising visibility of Researcher output and web presence. Scholarly Communication is defined as "the system through which research and other scholarly writings are created, evaluated for quality,

Open Access Button


Open Access Button  Free, legal research articles delivered instantly or automatically requested from authors.

People are denied access to research hidden behind paywalls every day. This problem is invisible, but it slows innovation, kills curiosity and harms patients. This is an indictment of the current system. Open Access has given us the solution to this problem by allowing everyone to read and re-use research. We created the Open Access Button to track the impact of paywalls and help you get access to the research you need. By using the button you’ll help show the impact of this problem, drive awareness of the issue, and help change the system.

The Open Access Button is a browser-based tool that lets users track when they are denied access to research, then search for alternative access to the article. Each time a user encounters a paywall, he simply clicks the button in his bookmark bar, fills out an optional dialogue box, and his experience is added to a map alongside other users. Then, the user receives a link to search for free access to the article using resources such as Google Scholar. The Open Access Button initiative hopes to create a worldwide map showing the impact of denied access to research. Every person who uses the Open Access Button brings us closer to changing the system.

The Benefits of Open Access To Rhodes University, Rhodes Researchers & the General Public


The formal adoption of Open Access through an institutional policy allows institutions to become part of the evolving research and academic ecosystem where access to research is immediate and open to the benefit of funders, researchers and citizens. An institution and its researchers may expect multiple benefits from the implementation of an efficient Open Access policy:

The Institution:

  • Collects and preserves its research output and disseminates it through the institutional repository
  • Provides the possibility of indexing and tracking the research output of the institution from international search engines on the Internet, like Google etc.
  • Monitors the number of visits and use and collects data and indicators that can be used in institutional planning, and the search for sources of funding etc.
  • Provides opportunities for the use and re-use of the institution’s output for research purposes (CVs, publications, excellence reports, indicators, institutional websites, personal websites etc.)
  • Boosts international communication, supports collaboration channels and bolsters the institution’s international profile
  • Makes African research more accessible and visible


  • Increases the visibility of research and citations. Outputs available on an Open Access basis have a citation advantage over those available only in toll-based publications
  • Increases the usage of research.  The more outputs available on an Open Access basis, the less frustration researchers will experience in finding details of articles that look interesting, but to which their institution does not subscribe (even the most well-funded academic libraries cannot subscribe to every academic journal).  Open Access also offers the researcher a greater opportunity to do more with their research outputs (traditional publishing often requires you to sign away all copyright in your outputs, limiting what you can do with them)
  • Increases the impact of research. The greater availability of your outputs provided by Open Access increases the possibilities of your research being found and new research collaborations being formed and more and more funders of research are requiring that outputs arising from research they fund be made available on an Open Access basis
  • Allows each researcher to obtain a permanent link for each of their research outputs

The Community:

  • Greater access to research outputs without the often prohibitive costs associated with traditional publishing.
  • No requirement for passwords or other forms of authentication.
  • Greater access to academic research findings for those researchers, academic and professional, who work outside academia (or in smaller institutions) who would not otherwise have straightforward access to those findings.
  • Ensures that those who actually provide the money for publicly-funded research (i.e. tax-payers) have access to the outputs they have funded.

Self-archiving & Citation Advantage

There are indications that scholarly articles available in an open access version are more visible and are cited more often than those which are only available via the subscription journal gateway.