It’s open access week, and the pace of change in the world of open access (OA) shows no sign of slowing down. Whilst this is a time of uncertainty, there are exciting developments and possibilities afoot...
“Plan S” aims to make open access a reality for Europe by 2020. On 4 September 2018, a group national research funding organisations, with the support of the European Commission and the European Research Council, announced an initiative to make full and immediate access to research publications a reality. Plan S consists of one target and ten principles.
We recently welcomed the radical new move. While reactions have been varied and there is much to discuss regarding implementation, we believe in the power of shared knowledge, and we’re looking forward to supporting our members as we shift towards an OA world.
This year’s open access week theme is: “designing equitable foundations for open knowledge”, which aims to explore the question “how can we can design open systems to ensure that they are inclusive, equitable and truly serve the needs of a diverse global community?”
Here are some examples of what we’ve been doing in this vein to support our members and researchers around the globe.
Making research available to everyone around the world
We pride ourselves on supporting the research community, and our service that we run with the Open University, “CORE”, does just that. CORE is a fantastic service that collates open access content from worldwide repositories and journals; facilitating free, unrestricted access to research for all. Efficient, comprehensive, and effective discovery is at the heart of making open access materials inclusive and equitable, serving the needs of users all around the world.
CORE can get information out to schools, colleges, universities, and developing countries that don’t have as many resources, and, in fact, absolutely any institution in need of content and information. As of May 2018, CORE has aggregated over 131 million article metadata records, 93 million abstracts, 11 million hosted and validated full texts and over 78 million direct links to research papers hosted on other websites.
Guides and clear information
We know the world of OA can be complicated and a bit daunting, so we provide plenty of free guides on open access, from the open access good practice handbook, to advice on how to manage your open access costs and managing research data in your organisation.
As the implementation of Plan S becomes clearer, we will support our members by facilitating discussions, identifying best practice, and acting as a voice for the community to funders, publishers and other policymakers to achieve the most efficient transition.
Providing technical foundations that ease workloads and make content discoverable
Of course, we provide the Janet Network, the UK’s world-class research and education network. Moreover though, we pride ourselves on our services that help organisations and researchers alike to source the information they need to do their jobs well.
Open systems to support open access use need efficient infrastructure services for holding, preserving, curating, and providing access to information.
For example, our research shared data service (RDSS) will allow researchers to easily deposit data for publication, discovery, safe storage, archiving and preservation. This means that they are able to provide easy and open access to research data so it can be re-used.
Continuity is key
In terms of the nuts and bolts, we promote the use of common infrastructure with our OA services, as we want to ensure that it doesn’t matter which systems are used, outputs can still be made open access. So the ‘piping’ that we use between our systems (the parts that allow information to flow from one to the other) involves the use of common standards and identifiers, such as ORCID.
This infrastructure is largely governed by the community meaning that our members can have a say in its development and feel more confident in its long-term future.
Helping to build skills for future generations of researchers
The advantages of open access to research reaches wider than the immediate research community. The government’s industrial strategy recently called for a rethink in order to close the skills gap.
Access to open knowledge will have a hugely positive impact on future generations of students and researchers alike, opening access to cutting-edge research for a wider audience than now, and allowing experimentation and innovation in its use in teaching, training, and research. We see the use of open access as underpinning developments and opportunities for training and a strong future workforce for the UK.
We’ll continue our work to support you in the move to OA. Our next steps are to continue to support institutions in complying with funders’ open access policies, in particular for the research excellence framework 2021 (REF2021).
We will be keeping a very close eye on the policy implementation of the Plan S principles, and the implications for our members and the UK (and global) infrastructure, and will continue to:
- Offer events and webinars
- Provide professional skills development for library and research staff
- Integrate our open access services with institutional and third party commercial systems
- Work to ensure our services reflect Plan S development
Visit our open access page for guides, services, and our OA newsletter.