(article originally published on http://www.eff.org), 2 October 2014)
Now in its eighth year, Open Access Week is an international event that celebrates the wide-ranging benefits of enabling open access to information and research–as well as the dangerous costs of keeping knowledge locked behind publisher paywalls.
From October 20 to 26, academics, researchers, and curious minds everywhere will be encouraged to learn about the various hurdles to open knowledge and share stories of positive advancements in the effort to make open access the norm in scholarship and research.
Whether you’re looking to learn more, to champion open access policies, or to raise awareness in your community, there are plenty of ways to get involved in Open Access Week. Read on to find out why we fight for open access to knowledge and how to take part in Open Access Week activities.
Why Open Access?
When we say “open access” we are referring to the practice of making scholarly research available online for free upon publication (or soon after). Open access policies should aim to remove barriers and encourage scholarly and educational reuse of research. Copyright restrictions sometimes undermine scientific ideals of openness and collaboration; good open access rules help to bypass traditional copyright limits by encouraging full use of open licensing systems that enable sharing.
Reasons for supporting open access policies abound. From maximizing taxpayer funded research to increasing the exposure and use of publications, facilitating interdisciplinary collaboration, and enhancing the overall advancement of scholarship, the need for open access is more important now than ever. As tuition prices continue to rise and Internet adoption is at an all time high, trapping knowledge behind prohibitively expensive paywalls is a disservice to scientists and problem solvers across the world. Progress is stifled.
Research institutions, academics, and the intellectually curious are increasingly embracing the open access model for research worldwide. Open Access Week is about keeping the dream of easy-to-access knowledge alive. And we have a chance to connect this global momentum toward open sharing with the advancement of constructive policy changes on the local level.
This year’s theme is Generation Open. We’ll be focusing on the importance of students and early career researchers embracing open access, and exploring how changes in scholarly publishing affect academics and researchers at different stages of their careers.
What You Can Do
There are all kinds of ways to get involved. We invite you and your community to join us for this exciting week of action. Here’s how:
Join the movement and stay connected! Together with the Right to Research Coalition, Creative Commons, Open Access Button, Fundación Karisma, and others, we created a platform for everyone to add their support for the open access movement. Sign here and share far and wide.
Write a blog post or place an op-ed in your local newspaper or on-campus publication. Find out if your campus has an open access policy and tell your story about why open access is important to you. Let us know if you write something.
Share on social media: simply spreading the word is important … and easy! Post your thoughts about open access and share articles and media that EFF will be posting throughout the week. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.
Host a screening and discussion about the film The Internet’s Own Boy, a powerful documentary that tells the story of activist and innovator Aaron Swartz, who also was a passionate and outspoken advocate for open access. Here is our guide to help you organize a screening of this important film. Be in touch if you decide to organize a viewing.
Print and share handy guides to help people in your community get up to speed on why we demand open access to research. There’s one on Diego Gomez’s case and one on the open access movement more broadly.
EFF has long been a leader in the open access movement. The Internet should be a place where we can share ideas and get educated, unimpeded by unfair paywalls. We are thrilled to join forces with dozens of organizations across the world for this year’s Open Access Week to spread message loud and clear: research should be free, available, and open for everyone’s benefit. Generation Open, here we come.