How can you support an equitable transition to open science during Open Access Week and beyond?
Between 24 and 30 October, Open Access Week is bringing together members of the academic community around the aim of making openness the default for research. Events throughout the week have focused on equitable knowledge sharing as a key part of the OA endeavour, highlighting the important role that this sharing plays in addressing global inequalities.
Since 2013, Research Consulting has shared this mission as we aim to inform, support and accelerate the transition to open access. Over the years, we’ve also engaged with universities, research funders, publishers, government departments, charities and more as they work to achieve this goal.
Now, as Open Access Week draws to a close, we believe there’s an opportunity to reflect on how we can all keep supporting the transition to open. In this post, we’ve summarised some of our most recent work that can help you – whatever your role in the open community – to do just that.
Using open and equitable knowledge sharing to tackle global challenges
We seem to be living in a time of perpetual global crises. Today, global communities are simultaneously considering how to recover from COVID-19, respond to evolving international conflicts, and recognise the importance of the climate crisis, all alongside other pressing concerns. For policymakers, tackling these concerns can introduce unique challenges.
We recently explored opportunities for open knowledge sharing to tackle global crises in the context of COVID-19, first through a case study on genomic viral data sharing during the pandemic (commissioned by the UK’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy) and secondly through an assessment of a Joint Open Sharing Statement on open research practices (commissioned by Wellcome). In both studies, we highlight the need for equitable knowledge creation and access, as well as equitable sharing of benefits and advances when addressing global challenges. Key recommendations for policymakers are outlined in our final report for BEIS (to be published shortly), and in our poster, as presented at OASPA’s 2022 online conference.
With similar motivations, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) are working to ensure use of OA publishing routes for outputs from research projects they fund, through their Open Access policy. We’re currently supporting the research funder to develop a monitoring and evaluation framework for this policy. This ongoing work will enable UKRI and the broader sector to assess progress towards Open Access, levels of compliance with the UKRI policy and its overall effectiveness.
Empowering the research community to navigate the open access landscape
Libraries and research support professionals have an important role to play in enabling open and equitable sharing. However, this work can be hindered by a lack of resources, capacity or clarity on researcher needs.
We’ve long supported institutions in addressing these barriers. This year, for example we worked with the University of Liverpool to conduct an open research climate review, to gauge the understanding of and engagement with open research practices among its academic staff and researchers. In this review, we spoke directly with researchers and institutional staff to understand challenges and opportunities when it comes to enabling open access. At the end of this work, we produced a bespoke SWOT analysis, and developed a tailored list of areas for further investigation by the University’s Open Research Team to inform future open access support. In previous years, we have worked with various institutions to support open research, including data management reviews for the Universities of Oxford, Southampton and Edinburgh.
The development of toolkits is another tried and tested way to support researchers navigate the open access landscape. In 2020, we supported the development of OAPEN’s OA Books Toolkit. This is an online resource aiming to help authors better understand open access book publishing options – take a look if you’re interested!”
Engaging with the open access community
International Open Access Week has shown us how diverse and far-reaching the scholarly community is. Engaging with stakeholders across this landscape is something we do regularly through our work, by attending conferences, and through our membership of sector bodies and organisations.
This year, our team has travelled across continents to share findings from our work with others in the scholarly communications community. In June, we joined the Society for Scholarly Publishing Conference in Chicago. A key theme of the event was ‘looking beyond open access’, aiming to ensure that research is understood by a broader audience. We also travelled to Odense, in Denmark to join the LIBER Conference in July, where open access was highlighted as a core component in enabling the transition towards open science. Earlier this month, we attended the Frankfurt Book Fair and STM Conference in Frankfurt. Next up, our Director, Rob, will visit Norway to join the Munin Conference. Here, he’ll present an Independent Expert Report investigating governance and financing models for the European Commission’s Open Research Europe publishing platform, with a view to operationalise an APC-free model by 2026 and beyond.
Underpinning all of this, we are proud to be members of various communities and sector organisations, including ALPSP, OASPA and STM. We have also supported Zenodo, an important open infrastructure that enables research to be shared and preserved worldwide. You can find a whole range of open research outputs in our Research Consulting Zenodo Community.
Open Access Week and beyond
So, as another Open Access Week winds down, we’re looking forward to continuing our work towards the open access transition. If you, like us, have been inspired by this year’s Open Access Week, and would like to know more about our work, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.