Opening up during lockdown: Open Access Week 2020 at La Trobe and beyond (Ashely Orr and Clare O’Hanlon)

Welcome to Open Access Week (#OAweek) 2020!  

#OAweek is a global event designed to enable academic communities to come together to explore the benefits of Open Access for research, teaching, learning, and beyond. 

This year’s theme is “Open with purpose: Taking Action to build Structural Equity and Inclusion”. La Trobe, the Australasian Open Access Strategy Group (AOASG), and other institutions have designed a big, rich range of exciting events for the week! You can see the full #OAweek program here

The theme recognises that structural inequalities and practices of exclusion are frequently embedded in traditional models for disseminating knowledge but, as the events of 2020 have taught us, even systems that seem immutable are capable of being disrupted.  

It’s our hope that this year’s #OAweek will be a call to action for all those involved in the pursuit of knowledge. By committing to the principles of Open Access in our scholarship, we are contributing to a more equitable and just society. At a recent researcher development event, the UK Science Minister Amanda Holloway stated that part of the solution to building a culture of wellbeing for researchers involves opening up research. Minister Holloway said: 

We should embrace, and encourage, new ways to share research – the exciting, diverse ways to communicate research and engage more people in research. 

We should value datasets, code and open methods, just as much as we value books, journals and conferences.

This post takes you through the #OAweek program in a bit more depth. We hope to see you at one or more of the events!  

As the university community knows, we are better together. We learn from the researchers who have gone before us and we put our findings out into the world so that others can learn from us. We find ways to collaborate with colleagues, new and old, even when we can’t fly halfway across the world to this year’s must-have conference destination! We’ve adapted to the constraints COVID-19 has placed on us, but we should also be prepared to build on the opportunities it has presented for making open access the new norm in teaching and research. 

Researchers are expected to share their research beyond academia but they need support from universities to do so. One way we’ve been supporting this in the Library over the past few years is by hosting the Visualise Your Thesis (VYT) competition and developing related workshops for intending participants. This work, managed by Katie Wiese (Coordinator, Researcher Education) and delivered by various Library staff, dovetails with the RED team’s ‘Communicating your research’ program. This year, VYT had more participants than ever! On Tuesday 20 October, you can hear from some VYT participants about their experiences of translating knowledge visually and opening their research to a broader audience beyond the academy, across a variety of disciplines (register now).  

In this time of emergency remote teaching, access to print resources has been limited so we’ve been finding new and creative ways to ensure students have access to the learning resources they need. We’ve had more conversations than ever before with academics about creating and using open education resources. You can hear from Steven Chang (Coordinator of open education and digital literacies) and RMIT University Library’s Jennifer Hurley about some of the lessons they’ve learned in open education publishing and advocacy on Wednesday 21 October (register now). If you look at only one open education textbook this week, make it Dr Carolyn D’Cruz’s Democracy in difference: Debating key terms of gender, sexuality, race and identity (on eBureau), which is aligned to this year’s theme in many ways! 

Have you used Gallery, Library, Archive and Museum (GLAM) collections in your Humanities and Social Sciences research? Have you collaborated – or do you want to collaborate with – GLAMorous colleagues to produce creative non-traditional research outputs, such as exhibitions and shows? Or maybe you’ve even used or want to use GLAM collections in object-based learning and teaching? If you answered yes to any of these questions, this session is for you! Inspired by a visit to the University of Newcastle GLAMx Lab in pre-COVID times, Clare O’Hanlon has been queerying La Trobe’s open special collections, describing them in new and ethical ways to increase their discoverability and thinking about possibilities for their uses in teaching and research. Come and explore some of these Open GLAM collections and possibilities at La Trobe and beyond in this Wednesday 21 October tour hosted by your guide Reid Marginalia (register now)! 

On Thursday 22 October, Thomas Shafee (Senior officer research data outputs) is running a workshop on WikiData as part of the AOASG program (register now). If you’re feeling super-keen beforehand, check out Thomas’ behind-the-scenes guided tour of Wikipedia from Nerd Nite (video) earlier this year.

If you’re looking for a practical gateway to Open Access, come and chat with our colleagues David Janssen and David Venema about finding and citing OA and public domain material on Thursday 22 October (register now). Learn about copyright, creative commons, and the continuum of openness!  

As our final event on Thursday 22 October, we’re launching and celebrating a new open knowledge sharing platform – Open at La Trobe (OPAL) - that Helen Slaney and Danielle Johanesen (Scholarly Publications team) have been leading the development of this year. This is a massive job at any time – let alone in the midst of a pandemic – and we’re excited to share the amazing ways that researchers can benefit from this new space! Grab a glass of something bubbly and join us at the OPAL Launch (register now)!  


Ashley Orr works at the La Trobe University Library by day
and is a graduate researcher in neo-Victorian fiction by night.
Clare O’Hanlon is a Senior Library Learning Advisor by day
and archivist at the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives by night.