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Open Access Week Preview
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Posted On October 15, 2012


Organizations around the world are gearing up to celebrate Open Access Week, officially held Oct. 22–28, 2012. For most institutions, Open Access Week is a way to increase the visibility of open access among scientists, researchers, librarians, university faculty members, and students. At the same time, it also provides opportunities for open access practitioners to exchange knowledge and share ideas. Open access means free, unrestricted access to and reuse rights for scholarly research, either through publication in open access journals or by posting copies of the peer-reviewed version of articles into open access repositories. This year’s theme for the week is Set the Default to Open Access, intending to make open access the norm in journal publishing rather than the exception. An increasing number of libraries, publishers, research funding agencies, NGOs, and other organizations are hosting workshops, speeches, and other types of events; launching advocacy campaigns; kicking off new initiatives; and participating in ongoing shows of support.

2012 marks the sixth year of Open Access Week. It was started in 2006 by SPARC (The Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition) of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), but it has broadened into a truly global event. This year, more than 100 countries will participate. While many participating organizations are academic libraries, international organizations such as the World Bank and the Food &Agriculture Organization will host events as well. The level and nature of organizations’ intended participation widely varies—several organizations have announced that they will be hosting an event or two, while others have a complete menu of events throughout the week.

Within the U.S., SPARC and The World Bank Group will officially kick off the week with a 90-minute panel discussion and Q&A. The live event will be held at World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C., at 4 p.m. ET on Monday, Oct. 22. Questions can be posted in advance on the event’s website. The event will also be live-blogged and live-streamed for remote participation. Many libraries around the country have announced plans to host a public viewing of the event.

Several colleges and universities will host weeklong series of events. Texas A&M University Libraries has a full slate of activities planned, including presentations and giveaways. The theme for the week is Set Your Research Free. One unusual event will be held as part of the libraries OA Café, which will feature a Guess the Journal Price game. As Gail Clement, head of digital services and scholarly communication, noted, “We want to call attention to the high cost of journals and the value of Open Access to scholarly communication.”

The University of Florida Libraries will sponsor 2 days of events, with the first day focused more on the sciences and the second day on humanities and social science themes. Both days will include poster sessions. Proposals were solicited from all members of the university community for “posters that demonstrate how open access has impacted their teaching, learning and research.” The call for proposals included examples of possible poster topics: “use of open educational resources in a UF course; how publishing in open access journals has increased the impact of scientific research; how the NIH open access mandate has affected health research; and utilization of crowdsourcing in sharing and review of research (‘open science’).”

George Mason University is celebrating Open Access Week throughout the entire month of October; the celebration will be used to “reflect on the spirit of innovation that is at the heart of the University’s philosophies.” One event, Open Data = Open Access, will be a panel that seeks to “highlight the benefits and implications of using open data in scientific disciplines.”

Johns Hopkins University will take advantage of Open Access Week to host a workshop for faculty authors and affiliated researchers to promote its new Open Access Author Fund.  The fund is designed to reimburse university authors who face author processing fees charged by open access journals. 

Several colleges and universities will host events specifically geared toward students. The University of North Texas (UNT) is planning a panel discussion for Oct. 25, UNT Speaks Out on Student Research & Open Access. The panel will include four student speakers, four faculty members, and two representatives from the library. Likewise, the United Government of Graduate Students at the University of Colorado–Boulder will host a panel discussion that will include perspectives from students, faculty, and librarians, and Indiana University will offer a brown bag lunch discussion—Real Experiences With Open Access—for graduate students.

Universities elsewhere around the world will host similar types of events. At the University of Zimbabwe, the library will focus its celebration on recognizing and honoring authors who have the most articles uploaded to the university’s institutional repository and authors who have had their materials downloaded the most times.

In Croatia, the Rijeka University Library will be hosting a philosophical discussion: Who is the Author 2.0? The conversation will touch upon a series of provocative questions related to what it means to be an author in today’s digital environment:

The option to choose “what counts?” is one of the features of a digital age, the age which creates digital, living texts online—texts that do unfold like a game, texts that can be re-read, re-written, texts that can stay open-ended. And how does this change the role of—authorship? How can an author caught inside the web of networked culture—defined by a copy, by remixing and sharing, continue to exist as a distinguished author among his fellow scholars? Is it finally time for the academy to welcome the emergence of the Author 2.0?

Open Access Peru will include a 2-day conference with speakers highlighting their experiences with open access from throughout Latin America.

The Open Access Week 2012 directory from EIFL lists many more examples of events that to be held in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. EIFL itself will host two free webinars targeted at OA practitioners: Open Harvester Systems (Oct. 19) and Open Monograph Press (Oct. 23).

In addition to university libraries, several other international organizations will participate. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)’s Agricultural Information Management Standards (AIMS) group will host seven webinars as part of Open Access Week @AIMS, all of which will be recorded for playback from the AIMS portal. The kick-off webinar, Opening Access to Agriculture Research Products, will highlight the experience of CGIAR, “a global partnership that unites organizations engaged in research for a food secure future,” to provide open and free access to all of its research results and development activities.

The Institute of Development Studies (IDS) in the U.K. will sponsor a discussion on Oct. 24, Open Access: Are Southern Voices Being Stifled? The discussion will broach some key questions with global implications: “Can this vision of open access become a reality for researchers and research users in developing countries? And as open access debates move beyond the journal, what does open access offer to research communication for development?”

In addition to hosting events, institutions are celebrating Open Access Week by pledging support via other mechanisms. Stellenbosch University, the organizers of the upcoming Berlin 10 conference, has issued a Call to Action for African organizations in particular and others who support open access to sign the Berlin Declaration.

Many organizations have listed their events on the official Open Access Week website. To follow on Twitter, use the hashtag #oaweek.


Abby Clobridge is the managing director of Clobridge Consulting, a boutique firm specializing in knowledge management, information management, and open access. Abby has worked with a wide range of organizations throughout the world, including various United Nations agencies; colleges and research universities; nonprofit, intergovernmental, and multistakeholder organizations; the news media; and private sector companies. She can be found on Twitter @aclobridge.

Email Abby Clobridge

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