Celebrating the Academic Commons

October 19 to 23, marked the first international Open Access Week, a time for university campuses to learn about the various ways of accessing and sharing academic research more freely.

On more than 100 campuses, students and faculty heard talks about copyright issues for instructors, open access journal publishing, graduate student publishing, finding copyright-free images, and using open educational resources in the classroom.

Last year, 120 campuses in 27 countries marked Open Access Day, which was apparently so successful that organizers decided to turn the event into a week-long teach-in and celebration.

Open Access, or OA, is the principle that research should be made freely available via the Internet, especially in the case of publicly funded research. Open Access literature is digital, online, free of charge, and often free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. Research has shown that providing open access to scholarly work dramatically increases the number of times the work will be cited in the future, which amplifies an author’s reputation and visibility.

A number of organizations have come together to organize Open Access Week. They include Students for Free Culture, an international chapter-based student organization that promotes the public interest in intellectual property issues; SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition, which deals with intellectual property and information & communications technology policy; The Public Library of Science, OASIS, the Open Access Scholarly Information Sourcebook, OAD, the Open Access Directory, and eIFL, Electronic Information for Libraries which will again spearhead events in developing and transitional countries.

One of my favorite sources on open access, with plentiful daily updates from around the world, is Peter Suber’s Open Access News.

For more information on Open Access and Open Access Week, go to the website, http://www.openaccessweek.org.