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Open Access Week Oct. 19-23 (why it matters)

At universities, research centers, and libraries around the world, a revolution is brewing, and this is the week we shout about it. Open Access Week (Oct. 19-23) is a time to call attention to the need for public access to scientific and technical research.

For decades, research results have been communicated almost exclusively through commercial publishers, commonly in the form of peer-reviewed journal articles. A single journal subscription can cost libraries thousands and even tens of thousands of dollars per year (a subscription to Journal of Comparative Neurology is more than $25,000 per year).  Such high costs have severely limited the number of journals that libraries can afford to receive, which, in turn, limits access to important research, a large portion of which is funded by taxpayer dollars.

The Open Access movement is exploring ways to make this research more readily available. The proposed Federal Research Public Access Act would require all federally funded research to be made publicly available within six months of publication. A similar requirement for research funded by the National Institutes of Health was signed into law in 2008, but has met with resistance from some publishers. Worldwide, more than 130 funding agencies and universities require researchers and faculty to make their research freely available to the public.

Access is typically provided by authors depositing their work in an open-access repository, such as the K-State Research Exchange. Many publishers allow authors to place a copy of their work in such a repository, although some completely restrict this practice. Another approach is for publishers to make all their articles publicly available, and the Directory of Open Access Journals lists more than 4,000 journals exploring this as a business model.

The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) serves as a clearinghouse for information on Open Access, and their Sparky Awards feature student-produced videos highlighting the benefits of open access and sharing ideas. Visit SPARC and K-State Libraries’ “Talking in the Library” blog for more information on Open Access Week.