OpenAccess Week to feature guest speakers

by Julian Nathan | 10/25/16 12:29am

by Divya Kalidindi / The Dartmouth

Open Access Week, formed with the intent to foster discussion about the open access movement, began yesterday at the College. The movement aims to combat barriers preventing complimentary access to academic journals and published research, said James Adams, the College’s data and visualization librarian.

According to engineering professor Rachel Obbard, open access is an especially important consideration for those in developing countries, who may not be able to afford subscriptions to research journals. This week, students and faculty will have the opportunity to hear from guest speakers and other lecturers.

Barbara DeFelice, the College’s program director for scholarly communication, said that this week’s programming will feature public talks, lectures and workshops. Today at 3 p.m., CEO of the Social Science Research Network Gregg Gordon will talk to students and faculty in Rockefeller Center 003 about the changing rules, roles and responsibilities of both researchers and publishers given the rise of the open access movement.

This Thursday, DeFelice and Scott Millspaugh will host a faculty workshop titled “Opening Access through Canvas Legally.” This workshop will inform faculty about how to make educational materials available to students through the Canvas interface in a legal manner.

Programming will culminate on Friday with a faculty workshop titled “Author Rights and Scholarly Identity.” Jen Green and Lora Leligdon will serve as instructors for this workshop, which will discuss faculty rights as authors of published work and teach various tools for increasing the impact and accessibility of research.

Reference librarian at Feldberg Library Emily Boyd explained that this week’s programming ties into national trends in academia and elsewhere. Boyd will be attending OpenCon in November, which will take place in Washington D.C.

Boyd explained it is easy for Dartmouth students to take their access to published research for granted. Individuals who are not affiliated with well-funded universities often struggle to access published work because of paywalls that require high fees in order to view content, she noted.

Obbard added that student-led initiatives at other universities have focused on the student benefits of open access. Problems that university students often face are textbook costs, which can act as barriers to their educations. Organizations such as the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition have proposed open textbooks as a viable solution.

DeFelice explained that open access has become an increasingly important issue during the past couple of decades. She indicated that progress has been made in this area and explained that in the past 10 years, public grant-supplying organizations including the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health have made taxpayer-funded research available to the general public due to a White House Office of Science and Technology Policy mandate. However, despite this progress, there is still more that needs to be accomplished, she said.

Reflective of these efforts, “some faculty are making an effort to use more open resources and are starting to think about publishing open access textbooks themselves,” said Obbard.