This week I learned how little I actually know about Open Access. However, with all its pros and cons, I firmly believe that Open Access is the way of the future for research.
Last week we talked about the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. One of the frames is Scholarship as Conversation. This frame outlines the idea that scholars recognize that their work will be discussed, analyzed and debated among peers who may in turn, build upon or disprove their work. In order for this to happen, scholars need access to the work of other scholars.
Traditional methods of publication have limited authors in their ability to retain rights and limited users in their ability to access due to paywalls. Open Access allows authors to choose how they share their work with the scholarly community. Although Open Access is not universal access, it does promote the ideal of universal access and we should champion efforts that support this ideal. Andy Nobes’ article pointed out other problems that limit access in Africa. I believe that periphery publications would gain more attention through an Open Access platform, especially with the help of the DOAJ. Catch up is inevitable in places where internet access itself is still limited and leaders do not value digital progress as Nobes mentions throughout his article. Building infrastructure may be a goal that continues with the next generation and will most likely be slow in some places. Reaching out and including periphery scholarship is something we intentionally must do in order to promote accessibility and progress.
This leads me to ask myself, “What can I do?” As a librarian, I can help spread the word and educate others about Open Access and Creative Commons licensing. I can encourage professors to publish in and teach with Open Access journals and I can intentionally select OER books and teaching tools for the classes I teach. This movement can continue to have momentum only with the support from within the scholarly community. My experience so far in OpenLearning#18 is a great way to keep the idea of Scholarship as Conversation moving forward.