Wouldn’t it be nice if you could read any piece of scholarship for free? This isn’t an ad — it’s one of the driving thoughts behind open access, which is “the free, immediate, online availability of research articles coupled with the rights to use these articles fully in the digital environment,” according to SPARC, a international coalition striving to make that mission a reality. This is about Open Access Week.
Open Access Week at SU
Open Access Week, a global event, is October 22-28 and the Syracuse University libraries are hosting two events to spread the word about open access and its benefits for the scholarly community. There will also be displays in the King & King Architecture Library, Bird Library, and Carnegie Library.
Meet Amanda Page
Amanda Page, the Open Publishing and Copyright Librarian, is spearheading the events, which include a presentation on Open Access and open scholarship and a submit-a-thon event where the campus community can learn about and begin the process for contributing to SU’s Open Access, institutional repository SURFACE. Both events are free and open to everyone, though RSVP is requested for the submit-a-thon.
Amanda’s work on Open Access doesn’t end after this week. Instead, a huge part of her work year-round is spent advocating for Open Access and figuring out how to fit this type of scholarship into the libraries and classrooms at SU. Her role includes overseeing SURFACE, guiding campus community members through processes related to access and scholarly publishing, and considering how Open Access might fit into SU in the long-term, among many other tasks.
Amanda came into working in Open Access and copyright by way of medical librarianship. While helping medical professionals with their research, she said she realized the value of prompt delivery of research. She found how deeply it could affect people’s lives. She dove into learning more about public access through supplemental classes, continuing education, and learning on the job, and eventually landed at Syracuse.
The Benefits of Open Access
Both at SU and beyond, the benefits of making works Open Access are numerous. Making a piece of scholarship Open Access increases its visibility and discoverability. This can raise the profile of the scholar and institution. Additionally, Open Access can be an equalizer in several senses. More people can access high-quality research for free and authors have the opportunity to retain more of their copyright and intellectual property.
According to Amanda, people at SU have been very receptive to open access, but it is not without its challenges. Although Open Access has the appearance of being “free,” there are many costs behind it. Beyond labor and compensation, which any institution needs to plan for. There are also misconceptions within the broader publishing industry that challenge the growth of open access.
Open Access is Growing!
Make no mistake, however — the principle is growing. Amanda said that only a few years ago, many institutions were deciding that open access is a good thing. Others were still deciding how they see it. Now, it’s a given that open access to information is vital. The focus has turned to how we can think about open access in the future, both at individual institutions and on a larger scale. The sustainability of the effort requires support from, and collaboration with, many groups. At SU, Amanda works with the Graduate School to offer the opportunity to make dissertations open access. Along with Graduate students, she works with faculty members and other campus departments who want to share their work.
Thanks to that support from across campus, open access at Syracuse takes many forms, including open scholarship, open data, open educational resources, and comes from many sources — which is part of the reason it benefits so many. There’s lots to learn, and Open Access week is a great place to start.