This week, October 19 – 25th, is International Open Access Week. This year, UH Mānoa is once again participating in Open Access Week by hosting a series of events where participants can learn more about open access (OA) and how to facilitate open access to their research. Events include talks on ScholarSpace (our institutional repository), Creative Commons licensing, editing Wikipedia, and more. See the full schedule of events here.
Open access refers to free online access to research and the ability to share that research. As you may know, subscriptions to scholarly literature are expensive – prohibitively so for most individuals not affiliated with an academic institution. In fact, many of these resources are prohibitively expensive for all but a few, relatively well-resourced, institutions. Providing open access to your work means that your colleagues can access and use your research and share it with their students at no cost. It means that individuals and communities unaffiliated with an academic institution, but who would benefit from your research findings in their work, activism, art, or personal lives, can access that information without encountering a pay-wall.
Open access has already gained a lot of steam in digital humanities and here at UH. The authors of The Digital Humanities Manifesto 2.0 saw open access as a key feature of digital humanities, arguing that a commitment to openness is part of the field’s “utopian core.” Locally, UH Mānoa has made an institutional investment in open access: the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs adopted an open access policy for faculty publications in 2012.
There are many ways to provide open access to your work:
- Publish in an open access journal
- Negotiate for the right to share a pre- or post-print of your article (published in a non-OA journal) on your personal website or in an institutional repository (like ScholarSpace)
- Publish an open access article in a non-OA journal (also called a hybrid journal)
- Keep in mind, however, that publishers usually charge a considerable fee to researchers or their funders for this option.
There are other ways you can support open access, including by making an effort to cite the OA versions of articles (where available) and sharing your other research outputs (digital projects, conference presentations, non-sensitive data) under an open license. (You may have heard of Creative Commons licenses, but did you know that there is such a thing as the Decolonial Media License 0.1?)
Importantly, open access is not a panacea for the complex problems of scholarly publishing or the structural inequalities that limit access to information globally and locally. (Not to mention, that dictate exactly whose information matters and on what terms it is shared.) Publishing an open access journal is labor intensive! This additional labor is often asked of us when we’re already stretched thin and without additional compensation. We are often quick to conflate “open” with “good” without taking context into consideration, and thereby failing to acknowledge that, sometimes, not looking or not sharing might be the ethical choice.
With these things in mind, open access can be a meaningful intervention in scholarly publishing, increase the accessibility of information, and help to bridge the divide between the academy and the public(s) it claims to serve. Consider Open Access Week an invitation to learn more about open access and an opportunity to reflect on the impact of your own scholarship and its relationship to your communities, scholarly and otherwise.