Open Access in a locked-down world

Photo by Alex Martinez on Unsplash

You may have seen a number of publishers, eBook and journal database platforms removing paywalls and opening up access to COVID-19 research and related content. Some of your course materials might have been turned into Open Access titles temporarily. Research materials about the virus are now easily accessible by researchers and health professionals, as well as the entire online community. Essentially, the academic world has responded to this crisis by selectively implementing Open Access principles, and it’s working really well!

So what is it that made now the perfect time to flip the switch on Open Access, and in particular, Open Science? The Conversation published an article recently highlighting how the current global impact of COVID-19 has increased the urgency of making publicly funded research available for free, and the dangers of locking important scientific information behind a paywall. The removal of financial barriers makes it easier for the social and practical implications of research to be acted upon quickly and effectively – things like social distancing practices and the ability to contact trace infections through a population are some great examples of scientific research being applied to make us safer.

“Open Science has the potential to reduce the amount of time that research findings take to make their way into the public domain where they can be read, drafted and translated into strategies, policies and laws.”

Pillay, D., & Damonse, B. (2020, April 23). Coronavirus shows the urgency of ensuring that information gets into the public domain. The Conversation. Retrieved from

When you’re writing an assignment, a major part of your research process is evaluating the quality of the information you’re using. One of the main markers for quality and authority is peer-review, but the majority of peer-reviewed material is behind paywalls. The only reason most people have access to peer-reviewed research is through their association with an institution that covers the cost for them – in this case, it’s us here at the Library ticking that box for you. Without that paywall, we’d see an increased availability of that high-quality information to a wider range of people, helping us all be better informed and equipping us to make evidence-based decisions.

The Open Access principles making COVID-19 research widely and freely available are that scholars, researchers, librarians and institutions have been gradually prioritising in academia for years now. We celebrate Open Access Week at the Library every year, and have added a filter to Primo Search to help you locate Open Access resources. We’d love to see the momentum that’s building up now translate into an industry-wide, long-term change because at the end of the day, the fewer barriers that exist between people and accurate, reliable information, the better off we all are.

Want to learn more?

We’ve rounded up some resources for you to help you find more information on Open Access and/or COVID-19 research:

Of course, you can always contact us with your Open Access questions or for help finding more information.