Archive for Wednesday, October 23, 2013

KU celebrates ‘Open Access Week’

October 23, 2013

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Open Access Week events

At 2 p.m. on Thursday former KU Provost David Shulenburger will give a talk on the third floor of Watson Library about the federal government's push for open access of research.

At 10 a.m. Friday Shulenburger will host a round of "lightning talks" by KU researchers who will discuss their experience with open access publication. The talks will be in room 455 of Watson.

Open access advocate Nick Shockey points out a fundamental irony in higher education: Once students have graduated and are expected by society to apply all the knowledge they've gained, they usually lose access to the scholarly research tied up in academic journals that they once had access to through their college libraries.

That's part of why he and his cohorts are working to unlock access for the wider world by making scholarly research free and widely distributed online. Shockey, currently director of student advocacy at the Washington, D.C.-based Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, or SPARC, is among the visitors at Kansas University this week to celebrate Open Access Week, a six-year-old event that advocates for broader access to academic research.

KU joins 900 other institutions in dozens of countries, from Tanzania to Spain to India, in recognizing Open Access Week.

Part of what brought Shockey to the KU campus, he said, was the prominent role KU has played in the national and international open access movement. KU Dean of Libraries Lorraine Haricombe sits on the steering committee for SPARC and has spearheaded KU's effort to make faculty research open to the world through KU ScholarWorks, a repository for journal publications by KU faculty. KU also has a policy, passed by the Faculty Senate in 2010, granting the university the right to publish faculty work when copyright contracts with publications allow.

So far, Open Access Week activities at KU have included workshops and webinars for researchers. On Thursday and Friday former KU Provost David Shulenburger, a longtime advocate for open access, will host talks on federal policy and how the movement has played out at KU.

Not everybody has fully bought in to the open access movement. At KU, Haricombe said there were early adopters as well as some professors and departments who have lagged. Shockey said some scholarly societies have relied on journal subscriptions to fund their activities and organizations. Academic publishing is also a multi-billion-dollar a year business, so there are huge sums at stake. To help calm industry concerns, federal laws calling for open access to research funded through government agencies allow for "embargo" periods that create delays between initial publication and open access.

For supporters of open access, the fact that tax dollars fund research through grants and faculty salaries makes public distribution of knowledge created at universities an imperative. Haricombe would like to see graduate students at KU move to make their publications open and for undergraduates to advocate for open textbooks in their classes. She said she also hopes for the state to come to the forefront of the movement, creating state-wide repositories for publications and data.

"It just makes too much sense to me not to do it," she said.

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