19 Jul 2013

Advocating for Open Access

Guest Post by Aoife Lawton, Systems Librarian, HSE

While some librarians are for- and some librarians are against- open access, I sit in the former camp. I am not going to preach about the benefits of OA, which are well documented, I’m just going to state that for me and others, including governments, the debate on OA is over. It is an inevitable progression of scholarly communication in the digital information age. Furthermore, it is an important evolution of science & knowledge. How we implement OA via Gold or Green is however worthy of discussion. It will be interesting to see how the UK fairs out in this regard, especially when most other English speaking countries and areas are going the Green route (USA, Ireland, Australia, EU).

When advocating for OA I find it is useful to start with policy and it’s important to keep up to date with this area as it is evolving. For a good global overview on OA policies please see this Canadian overview and this Australian overview. The next challenge is infrastructure and the EU has been stepping up progress in this regard, by providing a dedicated site with resources for Repository Managers, Researchers & Project Co-Coordinators on OpenAire. In some EU countries (Denmark, Bulgaria, Croatia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, UK) national open access groups have formed to look at policy and its implementation particularly with regard to Horizon 2020 funded projects across European countries.

The OA picture in Ireland 

Moving on from policy having a picture of what’s happening in open access in Ireland is the next step if advocating for OA. In Ireland we have a National Steering Group on Open Access established in 2012 representing 17 agencies. RIAN is the portal for Irish research output, which does not yet represent all repositories in Ireland, but this is something the Steering Group is progressing. The EU entry for Ireland on OpenAire provides a good overview. In the health system, I will have to mention Lenus which I manage and it aims to capture research by any healthcare practitioner particularly those working in hospital and community settings who would not always have a university association. Aside from the university based repositories there is the Health Well which strictly speaking is not a repository but is an interoperable portal capturing outputs from repositories and other sources on the island of Ireland. The RCSI has epubs capturing RCSI research and the HRB has its National Documentation Centre on Drug Use which hosts a unique collection of Irish drug and alcohol research. The next big thing is big data, and particularly big datasets in research. Ireland are hosting the third Plenary for the Research Data Alliance in Dublin on March 26 to 28, 2014 which should offer some interesting insights into this vast area.

Librarians and OA

Librarians have moved into new roles related to OA – they are managers of repositories and research advisors. But what are librarians doing about capturing their own research, and are they making it available in open access repositories? In the health sciences there is a collection in Lenus called ‘LIS’, which recently had to be explained to researchers in one of our Labs who were delighted as they thought this was their collection. However when it was pointed out that it stood for ‘Library & Information Science’ the interest faded. This collection is specifically for LIS professionals working in the health system in Ireland – so if you have published, presented or had a poster at a conference please submit it to Lenus. OA is not just about dissemination and access; it’s about preservation which sometimes gets overlooked.

A mention has to go here for progressive initiatives in this area: OALIS being one and the Academic Writing Librarian Blog being the other.

In terms of professional library organisations, IFLA recently announced that they have bought a repository due for launch later this year. It will host all 2013 World Library and Information Congress (WLIC) papers, existing IFLA standards, and a selection of advocacy documents. The Journal of the Medical Library Association (JMLA) of the US is openly available in PubMed Central and Journal of the European Association for Health Information and Libraries is openly accessible but the conference proceedings are harder to find. LISTA is a unique collection of LIS research but the fulltext is not always available as the name says ‘Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts”. As Michelle rightly pointed out, we don’t all have access to LIS research.

Perhaps a case for an international repository for medical or health librarianship is merited?

Advocates for OA

Aside from setting up or managing a repository, finding champions or advocates for OA within your organisation or further afield can help. As part of advocacy and developing a shared learning for OA, I interviewed Susan Michie who is a co-editor of the OA journal, Implementation Science (the interview is available to download as a podcast from lenus). Susan was here for a summer school run in TCD last August on this topic and I had an opportunity to talk to her from both a researcher and publisher’s point of view, on the value of Open Access. This Podcast maybe useful for others who wish to advocate for Open Access.

It is useful to put your organisation’s OA statement on the Library website or if your organisation doesn’t have one, you could point to the National one. In the HSE, we have put up information on the position statement and OA on the website.

Finally the international open access week is on every October, this year it will be during 21-27th October. Keep up to date or plan your own event and add it to the blog. I know I will be. Please get in touch if you’d like to co-organise an event.

To summarise here are my 5 top tips for advocating for OA:
1) get familiar with international policies about OA
2) learn about the infrastructure & developments around OA in your country
3) practice what you preach – if you have produced research, deposit it in an OA repository
4) look for advocates in OA and collaborate with them to produce a shared message
5) organise an event during international OA week – you can be as creative as you like!

*Open Science Logo / gemmerich / CC BY-SA

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Aoife for all the info. OA isn't a fad, it is happening as we speak and we have the opportunity of supporting and moulding it from the outset. It's nos. 1 & 2 of your top tips that I'm struggling with - it just never seems to rise to the top of the waiting list of things to do/papers to read. For me, the best advocacy tip would be to create a sense of urgency around the whole area.