This past week, Brock University’s library participated in the International Open Access Week to bring awareness to both faculty and students about open access publishing.
“A lot of what we do focuses on information. We do outreach and we help faculty members publish [their research] in open access journals,” said Elizabeth Yates, Liaison/Scholarly Communication Librarian.
A global Wikipedia Edit-a-thon was held in the Learning Commons on Oct. 20; participants helped edit or create new Wikipedia pages concerning open access. On Oct. 22, a panel of Brock faculty and staff discussed the issue and how to move research from a copyrighted system to an open access one. As well, a prize wheel was stationed in Mackenzie Chown A Block, Tuesday to Thursday, to spread awareness about the issue.
“Open access” refers to the movement that is trying to make research accessible to everyone. For centuries, the access to scholarly research was only available to those who paid for it – a cost that was traditionally related to the printing and mailing fees. Now however, with most journals only available online, subscribers still pay an excessive amount of money to have this research made available to them.
“The system through subscription is not financially sustainable,” said Yates. “We [the library] can’t keep up with the increasing costs. It’s consuming all of our budget.”
Most students have no idea about the costs involved that allow them to click through hundreds of online journals for their research. Moreover, this is a limited time offer for as soon as they are no longer official students, their access rights paid by the library will cease.
“Consider that you’re in a position of privilege here at Brock. Without open access, once you graduate from Brock you’ll have less access to knowledge,” said Yates.
The open access movement is a recent one. This year is the eighth year of the International Open Access Week and the sixth year that Brock is participating. The entire movement is driven by researchers who want their research to be more accessible and by libraries and institutions who cannot keep up with the rising costs of subscribing to copyrighted research.
Students have also done their part. The Open Access Button is an online widget that helps find a copy of a desired article that is not under copyright, and the Right to Research Collaboration showcases what students are doing to spread the movement.
The Brock library is also actively promoting open access. It currently supports six peer-reviewed open access journals and has made a digital depositary available for faculty members to post their research which will be available to everyone. Before the current budget cuts were put in place, the library also offered grants to those publishing their research in an open access journal.
“There are researchers who work at institutions paid by taxpayers but their research isn’t accessible [by the taxpayers],” said Yates. “I feel like we have accountability towards those taxpayers.”
For more information, visit brocku.ca/library/about-us-lib/openaccess or the website for the International Open Access Week: openaccessweek.org
Internal News Editor