This guest post has been contributed by Caroline Knowles, Head of Research Communications and Engagement at University of Reading.
This week (beginning 24 October) is International Open Access Week. ‘So what?’ you might ask. The messages we have received recently about open access have all been about compliance with the new HEFCE requirement that journal articles are openly available, for all to access free of charge as soon as possible after acceptance.
That’s important. But there’s so much more to open access than that. Much that goes right to the heart of academic collaboration and communication. The UK is recognised as being the leading nation in the open access and open data movements. This underpins our position as a leading research power – and we should celebrate that.
So why is open access important for each of us as individual researchers?
- Take back control: The open access movement arose out of a sense of frustration with commercial publishing models and the feeling that researchers’ good will and good offices were being exploited. Its aims were to allow academics to take back control of the publishing process, including, importantly, peer review.
- Promote your research: Open access increases the visibility of research and self-archived articles are more likely to be cited than non-open articles (here’s evidence from Political Science journals).
- Build your networks: Open sharing – of data and publications – allows scientists to make connections and increase the power of their data through collaboration. The Open Source Malaria network and Open Source TB, for example, are both part of a growing movement to stimulate open innovation. http://openwetware.org/wiki/Open_Source_Research.
- It’s government policy: Government has recognised that open access is better value for money – publicly funded research should be a public good, open to all who need to see and use the findings. In fact, the government has recently requested: “Challenging but achievable UK goals and priorities for open access to publications, and related data, in the next five years”.
- Transfer resources: Open access to research enhances transparency and accountability. It makes information and knowledge available to users – be that other researchers, professional and policy audiences, or civil society – wherever they are in the world, to use at local level to tackle the global challenges such as poverty and climate change that we say we care about.
The theme for open access week 2016 is ‘take action’ – and there are some wonderful examples of activities taking place from Berlin to Cairo, Nepal, Tamil Nadu and further on the international open access week website.
At University of Reading, the library team will be running a series of activities across campus. Look out for their posters and post-it notes, and make your own resolution to ‘take action’ and become part of this global movement towards more open academic collaboration.
Head of Research Communications and Engagement, University of Reading