International awareness week marks new beginning for enabling the Web and advancing research through Open Access

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For immediate release
October 29, 2009

For information, contact:
Jennifer McLennan

(202) 296-229 jennifer [at] arl [dot] org

International awareness week marks new beginning for enabling the Web and advancing research through Open Access   

Washington, DC – The first International Open Access Week (October 19 – 23) may have just come to a close, but the broad spectrum of initiatives that it showcased ensures that Open Access to research will play a central role in advancing the conduct of research and scholarship for years to come.  Events took place on more than 300 higher education, research, and other sites worldwide, illustrating the dramatic growth of the global network that has emerged in support of Open Access.

The week, designed to raise awareness Open Access (OA) – free, immediate, online access to research results – highlighted the research community’s deep commitment to OA, along with the rapidly growing integration of Open Access into the core mission and operations of higher education and research institutions.  It was a platform for key new reports on the economic and social impacts of Open Access to debut, and served as the impetus for research funders to announce millions of dollars of new support for open-access publishing.

Deep interest in Open Access was in evidence, as tens of thousands of individuals attended live events, logged onto Web casts, shared videos, and participated in contests calling on stakeholders to express their support for Open Access through creative uses of digital resources. Key events from the week included:

  • The release of extensive research on the economic and social impact of Open Access. Key new data on the potential economic and social impacts of Open Access were made available. The Committee on Economic Development, which represents senior corporate executives and university leaders, released a draft of “Harnessing Openness to Improve Research, Teaching and Learning in Higher Education,” containing key recommendations related to open-access policies (Update 11/16: the final CED report has been released and is online at http://www.ced.org/images/library/reports/digital_economy/dcc_opennessedu09.pdf). And, the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) in the U.K. released a comprehensive guide to its 15 years of research on Open Access, including data on the increased return on investment generated by opening access to the results of publicly funded research (http://www.jisc.ac.uk/openaccess).
  • The commitment of significant new funds to support open-access publication. The Wellcome Trust, one of the world’s largest funders of biomedical research, announced they would provide an additional 2 million pounds over the next 12 months to support open-access publication models. The Trust issued a transparency challenge to journal publishers, calling on them to openly report uptake of the open-access option by authors and to adjust subscription rates to reflect increases in income from open-access fees (http://www.wellcome.ac.uk/News/Media-office/Press releases/2009/WTX057058.htm). The announcement followed commitments by a growing number of research universities to establish similar open-access publishing funds.
  • A groundswell of support by college and university students. More than 5 and half million students are represented by organizations that took the opportunity to sign the “Student Statement on the Right to Research,” calling for the adoption of Open Access and open-access policies throughout the academy (http://www.righttoresearch.org).

“The unprecedented scale of the expression of support for Open Access from across the globe signals that Open Access is firmly on the road to becoming an established norm in the academy,” said Heather Joseph, Executive Director of SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition). “The events of this year’s International Open Access Week helped to catalyze actions that will show results in the coming months and years, as more open-access policies are established by funders and faculty alike, more open-access articles come online and are shared, and the benefits of Open Access are demonstrated by researchers and scholars in their own work.”

Open Access Week is organized by SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), the Public Library of Science, Students for Free Culture, eIFL, OASIS, Open Access Directory, JISC, and SURF. Promotional partners include SPARC Europe, SPARC Japan, Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden), Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (UK), SciELO-FAPESP-BIREME (Brazil), The Open Society Institute (New York & Budapest), SURF (The Netherlands), Open-access.net (Germany), The Public Knowledge Project (Canada), My Open Archive (Japan), DuraSpace (US), IssueLabs (US).

For more stories, videos, and photos from Open Access Week events around the world, see:http://www.openaccessweek.org.

About SPARC

SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), with SPARC Europe and SPARC Japan, is an international alliance of more than 800 academic and research libraries working to create a more open system of scholarly communication. SPARC’s advocacy, educational, and publisher partnership programs encourage expanded dissemination of research. Membership in SPARC is open to academic and research libraries of all sizes, which share interest in advancing scholarship through broadening access to research.