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Open Access Week 2013: A Recap of This Year’s Global Celebration
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Posted On October 31, 2013
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Throughout the week, several organizations announced newly released reports. The Open Access Licenses and Agreements Task Force, a multistakeholder group initiated and supported by the Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR), issued a new report, “Open Access Clauses in Publishers’ Licenses: Current State and Lessons Learned.” The task force reviewed various OA clauses within publishers’ licenses in the context of depositing manuscripts into OA repositories. The report presents the full-text licensing language of specific clauses and ways in which organizations have successfully negotiated authors’ rights or deposit rights for institutional repositories. In terms of lessons learned, the report indicates the following:

Our review found that open access clauses offer a feasible option for institutions to address some of the barriers to article deposit into repositories and [potential] adherence to OA policies. However, many publishers are reluctant to implement these clauses and will only do so when it is clear that this is a priority for the organization. In fact, several organizations reported that they had dropped the OA clause from their negotiations in favour of other aspects such as price reductions.

Likewise, the Mediterranean Open Access Network (MedOANet) released its new “Guidelines for Implementing Open Access Policies for Research Performing and Research Funding Organizations.” While the guidelines are specifically aligned with work occurring within the European Commission, the recommendations are in line with current global best practices and applicable to all organizations considering OA policies or mandates.

Latin America celebrated its own major milestone: Open Access Week coincided with the 15th anniversary of SciELO (Scientific Electronic Library Online), an online publishing platform and model for scholarly publishing tied to national infrastructures. SciELO is based in Brazil, but several other countries from Latin America plus South Africa, Portugal, and Spain each have their own SciELO journal collection. The SciELO infrastructure and services are supported by government funding, which allows SciELO to avoid charging authors article-processing fees. Although not well-known within North America, SciELO is a major global player in publishing freely accessible research. Further details about SciELO’s story are available in the newly released UNESCO publication, “SciELO – 15 Years of Open Access: An Analytic Study on Open Access and Scholarly Communication.”

The Australian Open Access Support Group (AOASG) also inaugurated its Open Access Champion awards last week. The recipients of the first awards included an individual, associate professor Alex O. Holcombe (School of Psychology, University of Sydney), and an organization, Engineers Without Borders (EWB), for the EWB Institute’s work on the Open Journal Project.

Many university libraries hosted events designed to raise awareness of OA among researchers and/or students. A few examples: Queen’s University Belfast hosted a 1-day Open Access Colloquium. The event was intended to draw an audience from across the university’s research community, but the colloquium was also set up to support external participation through a Google Hangout. The University of Zimbabwe exhibited posters of academics with the “Top Ten Most-Accessed Articles” collected in the institutional repository and top contributors of content to the repository. In Moldova, a group of students presented a flash mob in support of OA. Watch the video on YouTube. Many other libraries hosted events of their own; check the Open Access Week website’s directory of events for other examples and ideas.

At the close of the week, SPARC announced that 65 provosts from universities and colleges around the United States issued a joint letter urging Congress to pass the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research (FASTR) Act, which requires every federal agency or department that funds more than $100 million in research to make scholarship produced with those funds available to the public in a reusable format within 6 months of publication. FASTR was introduced in the Senate and House of Representatives in February 2013. Many library and publishing organizations, including the American Library Association, Creative Commons, and Electronic Frontier Foundation, immediately came out in support of the bill. In September, a congressional briefing was held to explore the issue of public access to publicly funded research. The provosts’ letter was a follow-up effort to underscore the commitment of higher education to this issue. The letter was ultimately signed by 65 provosts from universities such as Duke University, Georgia State University, Pennsylvania State University, the University of Arizona, and the University of Kansas. The letter indicates the following:

We believe that this legislation [FASTR] represents a watershed and provides an opportunity for the entire U.S. higher education and research community to draw upon their traditional partnerships and collaboratively realize the unquestionably good intentions of the bill’s framers—broadening access to publicly funded research in order to accelerate the advancement of knowledge and maximize the related public good. By ensuring broad and diverse access to taxpayer-funded research the bill also supports the intuitive and democratic principle that, with reasonable exceptions for issues of national security, the public ought to have access to the results of activities it funds.


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Abby Clobridge is the founder of and principal consultant at FireOak Strategies (formerly Clobridge Consulting), a boutique firm specializing in knowledge management, information management, and open knowledge (open access, open data, open education). Abby has worked with a wide range of organizations throughout the world, including various United Nations agencies; private sector companies; colleges and research universities; nonprofit, intergovernmental, and multi-stakeholder organizations; and the news media. She can be found on Twitter (@aclobridge).

Email Abby Clobridge

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