Musings on Open Access and fairness (Jenny Fafeita)

Next week La Trobe University will be celebrating Open Access Week along with researchers all over the globe. From 21-27 October there will be a series of conversations, workshops and online offerings which are all about open access, and the questions of fairness that arise when thinking about accessing knowledge. Check out the activities here!   

Over the past few weeks I’ve been working with library staff to coordinate a series of activities for Open Access (OA) week (21-27 October). ). This international event is an opportunity for us all to reflect on the meaning of OA and what it means for us as members of research communities.

The theme of this year’s OA Week, “Open for whom? Equity in open knowledge”, is timely as many La Trobe students are graduating and will no longer have access to research and educational resources sitting behind paywalls. How will they get access in the future?  

This question has been on the mind my library colleagues, Clare and Wendy. They have developed a special online lunchtime session for OA Week called  Accessing research and educational resources beyond your degree. If you’re a graduand, La Trobe Alumni, simply interested in avenues of information access after graduation, or are an independent researcher between university contracts, I encourage you to join us! The session includes resources in areas such as archives, creative industries, public policy, law, health, databases you can access as a La Trobe University Alumni, and more.

The organisers of this year’s International OA week are encouraging us to think and act upon equity issues in relation to open knowledge. While musing about this provocation, my mind went off on several tangents, two of which I’d like to share in this blog post.

First, when I think about equity, I think about fairness. Fairness for both users and creators of knowledge. I’m grateful to people that openly share their intellectual and/or creative works with others. And I love the idea of Creative Commons licensing because it’s only fair that authors/creators have the right to specify how they want their work to be used, re-used and shared, and to be properly attributed for their intellectual and/or creative effort. If you use freely available media in presentations and social media, you may be interested in this practical workshop offered in both face-to-face and online sessions. Finding and using OA media covers finding images, video and soundbites, Creative Commons licensing and how to properly acknowledge the use of scholarly/creative works.

Second, when I think about equity and participation, I think about some of the champions of the OA movement, such as Peter Suber and Ginny Barbour.  I’ve benefited enormously from Peter’s work as a senior researcher at SPARC and I’m sure thousands of information professionals feel similarly.  If you want a short but thorough introduction to OA, I recommend reading his Open Access Overview. Peter has a knack of precisely clarifying what OA is and what it isn’t. Ginny has a long career as an academic and editor at prestigious publications including The Lancet and PLOS Medicine. She is also the immediate past Chair of the Committee on Publication Ethics. Ginny is currently a professor at QUT and serves as the Director of the Australasian Open Access Strategy Group.  The reason why Ginny immediately comes to mind is that I recently witnessed her advocacy work when she spoke to La Trobe library staff about the past, present and future of OA.

Speaking of advocacy, we’re holding a special TweetChat about open scholarship and activism during OA week. Facilitated by RED team member Tseen Khoo, it features invited guests Alex Bayley, Mathew Ling and my library colleague Steven Chang.  We’ll be discussing topics across OA activism and the use, sharing, and creation of OA resources in activist activities. The hashtag to follow and use is #OAweek.

Have you got any thoughts to share about OA? What does it mean to you as a member of a scholarly community? We hope to see you at our events throughout OA week!