This article was written by Lucy Carr Jones, and edited by Kimberley R. Barker.
This Fall, the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library is celebrating International Open Access Week for the first time. Open Access Week was created by SPARC, a nonprofit organization which seeks to democratize access to knowledge through the open sharing of research outputs and educational materials. The theme for this year’s Open Access Week is “Open with Purpose: Taking Action to build Structural Equity and Inclusion”, and organizers are calling upon us to consider “…who these spaces and systems are designed for, who is missing, who is excluded by the business models we use, and whose interests are prioritized” (SPARC, 2020).
In the current scholarly publishing model, many people are excluded. The high prices of journal subscriptions mean that independent scholars and researchers, those at less well-funded universities and colleges, and thousands of scientists, scholars, and clinicians across the Global South are unable to access the necessary resources. This article by a Nepalese doctor exemplifies some of the real-world problems created by a lack of access to current medical research.
The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the attention to open access, as quickly sharing the latest research on the disease is of paramount importance. MedrXiv, the medicine-focused preprint server that launched in 2019, now has 7,190 articles on COVID-19 and received 5 million PDF downloads in April 2020 alone.
Research funders are also paying attention to these issues. Following the lead of the National Institutes of Health and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which instituted open access policies in 2008 and 2015 respectively, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute just announced their own open access policy, requiring major research from HHMI labs to be published open access without an embargo.
To help UVA Health patrons learn more about open access, the Health Sciences Library has published a sustainable scholarship guide with sections on preprints, author’s rights, levels of access, open science, and more. We have also partnered with our colleagues at the UVA Libraries to produce videos on data repositories, copyright and open access, and open educational resources; find these resources and more at: https://guides.hsl.virginia.edu/oa2020. For more information about any of these subjects, please contact Abbey Heflin, Head of Collections Management, at email@example.com.
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