Open Access Week 2012 - opening research and data

A group of academics and funders gathered at 'Opening Research and Data' to celebrate Open Access Week.

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At a meeting held as part of Open Access Week 2012, participants from a number of UK academic institutions and funding institutions discussed the current status of open access to research and data.

The event took a high-level look at the open agenda, particularly in light of recent developments such as the Finch Report and the new RCUK policy on open access.

Frederick Friend, Honorary Director Scholarly Communication at UCL, gave a broad overview of the development of open access up to the present day. The strongest message I took from his presentation was the flaws in the Finch Report, and as a result the flaws in the RCUK open access policy. He noted that there was (unjust) antagonism towards institutional repositories (IRs), particularly since IRs are the medium by which the vast majority of the 20% of open access journal content has been made available.

He also characterised the Gold option recommended by Finch and RCUK as being uncosted and to the detriment of cheaper Green OA. He likened the policy to trying to make an aeroplane flight to open access with just one (Gold) engine - something much easier to do with two (green and gold) engines!  He also asked academic colleagues to question what exactly they will receive in return for potentially very high Gold OA article processing charges. You can view Frederick Friend's presentation here.

Professor Stephen Curry from Imperial College London is, as he admitted, someone who has recently become interested in open access, and has blogged prolifically on the issue recently, as well as writing on open access and other scientific matters for The Guardian. His general message was that it had been a positive year for open access, since the "fundamentally unanswerable" argument for open access had been won, and awareness of open access was greater than ever before.

He had a few concerns, which echoed those of Fred Friend, in particular that Finch and RCUK's emphasis on Gold will benefit commercial publishers, and that the open access movement must show more unity given the sometimes divisive and rancorous nature of the Gold v. Green debate. Finally, he mentioned that the spurious indicator of academic worth, the Impact Factor, should be done away with. You can view Prof Curry's presentation here.

Providing a couple of 'real-life' experiences of open access were Dr Melissa Terras and Dr Antonio Gasparrini. Dr Terras, a Digital Humanities scholar at UCL, discussed her experiences at using social media (in particular blogging and Twitter) to promote papers made available in UCL's Discovery repository. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a combination of well-nurtured social networks and openly accessible research equals lots of downloads and hence wide dissemination of research (and see here for a fuller account of a previous version of this presentation). You can view Dr Terras' presentation here.

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