This is the last day of International Open Access Week (Oct. 24-30), but not the end of the work needed to raise awareness of open access initiatives.
Why the need for open access (OA)? Why should researchers and faculty prefer to publish in OA publications? Greater visibility and access to research. Faculty and researchers write to advance their knowledge fields and their careers. These same authors publish their work and sign away their rights to publishers who in turn sell their scholarship back to these same institutions. Many journals allow a version of the article to be posted freely online, but only after an embargo period made available in a costly library database.
Why would students need it? To access scholarly articles their institutions do not have. That goes for researchers at other institutions as well. The needs are many. OA also resonates because it touches on several drain issues for colleges and universities: the cost factor for institutions and libraries to purchase bundled journals; the giving up of author rights in publishing licensing agreements; the monopolistic corporate hold of scholarship tied to specific journal publishers (or if research is publicly funded it still ends up behind a paywall); or tenure and promotion committees or policies that use ambiguous journal impact metrics that favor perceived prestige rather than scholarship.
Peter Suber, Director of the Harvard Office for Scholarly Communication, and one of the leading voice in the Open Access movement, wrote about this subject and made it freely available (and updated regularly) on the web for anyone to read.
The move towards OA is not difficult, but it is necessary if an open market of research ideas and knowledge is needed to sustain a thriving democratic society.
This International Open Access Week is a call to action for authors, librarians, faculty, promotion and tenure committees, administrators, publishers, and institutions of higher learning to embrace openness as a means to engage and make timely and needed scholarship available to everyone.