The Theme of the 2018 International Open Access Week is “Designing Equitable Foundations for Open Knowledge”. As Brock University Library staff were planning for OA Week, the question arose; “What is this theme trying to get across … what does it mean?”
Nick Shockey, Director of Programs & Engagement, SPARC describes the theme as follows: “This year’s theme reflects a scholarly system in transition. While governments, funders, universities, publishers, and scholars are increasingly adopting open policies and practices, how these are actually implemented is still in flux. As open becomes the default, all stakeholders must be intentional about designing these new, open systems to ensure that they are inclusive, equitable, and truly serve the needs of a diverse global community.”
A key concept in this year’s theme is equity. By definition equity is “the quality of being fair and reasonable in a way that gives equal treatment to everyone.” (Collins Dictionary, 2018) It is reasonable and perhaps ethical to say that everyone, especially individuals in an academic environment should have access to knowledge. Moves toward open knowledge are gaining momentum, such as incentives for researchers to share their work openly and awareness surrounding the importance and benefits of publishing in an open format is growing. However, much work still needs to be done. Universities are still paying publishing giants exorbitant fees to provide students, faculty and staff access to thousands of paywalled journals. Shockey raises some interesting questions in his blog; “How do we ensure sustainability models used for open access are not exclusionary? What are inequities that open systems can recreate or reinforce? Whose voices are prioritized? Who is excluded? How does what counts as scholarship perpetuate bias? What are areas where openness might not be appropriate?” Advocates and supporters of Open Access are actively addressing these concerns through ongoing conversations and initiatives to continuously increase inclusive, accessible scholarship.
Brock University is taking steps to support and promote Open Access. Learn more about Open Access, O.A. platforms and scholarly communication at Brock University. For more information on International Open Access week visit: www.openaccessweek.org.
Blog post by Alicia Floyd.