Medical students are consumers of research output, but are also under increased requirements to become producers of research content. Open Access (OA) has clear advantages from both perspectives. OA allows medical students, whether in Maastricht or in Sydney, to draw on a wider array of research output than would otherwise be possible.
Benefits of Open Access
Increasing journal numbers mean that university libraries are unable to afford subscriptions to quality indexed journals. Frequently a highly relevant article is found, only to realise soon it’s behind a paywall with no library journal subscription. The option of paying $30-40 for access to single paper is rarely palatable for a student budget. For the same reason that OA is said to bring knowledge to developing nations, local medical students can have access to a wider array of research to incorporate into their knowledge base.
Moreover, newer developments in OA are quickly gaining momentum. Some OA resources such as Wikipedia are not completely reliable, and alternatives such as Free Open Access Meducation (FOAM) resources are gaining popularity. The fantastic and heavily-Australian contributed Life In The Fastlane has quickly become a go-to reference for up to date information into emergency medicine and critical care; in some cases it surpasses even traditional textbooks.
Australian Medical Student Journal
Poised to take advantage of this increased research focus, the Australian Medical Student Journal is approaching its 7th volume and has utilised the OA model from its inception. The OA model has brought with it some challenges, but predominantly there is a benefit for students.
OA allows medical students to draw on a wider array of research output than would otherwise be possible. Medical students have much to gain from OA; both as authors providing access to their scientific developments to a broad audience, to readers needing to gain large amounts of current information from a wide variety of sources.
Post 24 November 2015, Australian Open Access Support Group: Open Access, and why it matters to medical students, David Jakabek on new ways that medical students get information & the role of Open Access.