Open access is a form of academic publishing made possible by the internet.
Peer-reviewed journal articles and books are available online with unrestricted access, allowing researchers to quickly and freely share their research with diverse audiences. Open access is provided in one of two ways.
Green Access or “self archiving” is when a journal allows individual authors to make a published article available free of charge through the author’s university/institution’s online repository, usually via a library webpage.
“Gold access” journals and books provide free access to articles or book chapters, directly from the publisher’s site. Making academic research free of charge and freely accessible via the internet allows research to be quickly and internationally disseminated, to readers without access to often expensive journal subscriptions.
In addition to making research more accessible, online publishing allows researchers to include visual and audio content that cannot be published in print. Due to production costs and restricted space in printed journals and books, the inclusion of images is limited in quantity and often quality.
Images are usually reproduced small, printed in black ink only. This means research is reported primarily through the written word.
For researchers investigating creative practices that involve visual, audio and motion graphics – design, media arts, film, visual arts – conventional academic journals and books are an insufficient way to report research. Harnessing new digital publishing software and distribution platforms, open access publishing offers more effective ways to communicate research about creative practices, allowing researchers to show as well as tell their research process and findings.
Launched as part of the University of Technology, Sydney’s Open Access Week, Media Object is a double blind peer reviewed book series published by UTS ePress. I am a series editor and designer for Media Object.
I’m not paid for it but it’s part of my academic research practice at UTS. Media Object is an innovation in academic publishing because it is open access, and also an enhanced ebook – it contains interactive audio-visual content as well as written text and still images. The books are available to download for free here as interactive PDFs and as eBooks via the iTunes store.
The series is produced by the UTS [Centre for Media Arts Innovation](http://www.fass.uts.edu.au/communication/centres/cmai/](http://www.fass.uts.edu.au/communication/centres/cmai/) in collaboration with the Page Screen Studio.
The first book in the series is Live A/V in Australia by Grayson Cooke. Through a collection of video interviews with audio-visual artists from around the country, edited into seven key themes each prefaced with a short critical text, a picture of a vibrant performance scene emerges.
The interviews cover diverse practices, ranging from artists collaborating with DJs in clubs, to collaborations with the Australian Chamber Orchestra at the Sydney Opera House. This content could not be communicated in a text-only publication. Richly describing audio-visual practice requires audio-visual material.
Future books in the series will also include video documentation of production processes, allowing insight into creative practice that is difficult to document succinctly through writing, and slide shows of images that would be expensive and difficult to reproduce in print.