Sunday, 26 October 2014

Open Access Week

Today marks the end of Open Access Week (October 20-26).  In celebration of this international event, my Information and Society class (ISI5701) was asked to take a closer look at one of the many open access services available at the University of Ottawa.

Defining Open Access

Researchers often publish their findings in peer-reviewed academic journals.  The authors of these papers freely provide their work and in many cases sign away their copyrights to journal publishers.  This means that the publishers are the only ones profiting from scholars' works, and libraries or educational institutions end up paying large fees to have access to the research articles!  On top of that, large portions of the global population get excluded because they cannot afford the access fees charged by the publishers.  In response to this problem, many librarians, educational institutions, and researchers have been advocating for open access.  Open access is a growing movement in which scholars provide the entire population with free online access to their research papers.  This campaign began in 2002 with the Budapest Open Access Initiative.  The University of Ottawa is a leader in providing global open access to the research of its students and faculty through many initiatives.  Today I'm going to show you one of the services offered by the University of Ottawa: uO Research.

uO Research

uO Research is an online archive for open access content from the University of Ottawa.
It provides open and permanent access to uOttawa scholarship thereby ensuring its wide dissemination and increased visibility on the web. We invite all faculty, graduate students and researchers to contribute their scholarly works to uO Research.
It includes, but is not limited to, theses, articles, working papers, preprints, technical reports, conference papers, research posters, teaching materials and data sets in various digital formats. uOttawa Research is organized around communities and sub-communities which generally correspond to administrative entities such as faculties, departments and research institutes. Each community has the flexibility to set policies on what they would like included in their uO Research collections.
uO Research is an example of green open access: a title given to an online storage system for documents.  There are many different collections within uO Research reflecting the different faculties at the university.  Also included is the uOttawa Theses collection, which holds the completed theses of all the University of Ottawa's post graduate students.  It is currently a requirement that all completed University of Ottawa student theses must be stored in uO Research.  This is a big advantage for students!  Here are just a few reasons why:

1. It's a means of permanent storage for your work.
2. More people will have access to it, meaning your work will have more exposure.
3. Once added to the repository, you work will immediately be available for others to read (which is much faster than a traditional journal).

It is clear that open access is a great asset to university students.  If your university currently does not offer open access services, I would strongly recommend that you speak to your university president about the benefits of open access.

Want to Learn More?

For more information on open access, Peter Suber's book Open Access offers a comprehensive look at all the facets of this topic.  You can also check out OpenDOAR for a list of other open access depositories.