This week is Open Access Week and this year's theme 'taking action to build structural equity and inclusion' prompts us to reflect on what this means and why it's important to the open access movement.
The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that open access is essential in providing fast, unrestricted access to research. At the same time, it has exposed and exacerbated many inequalities in academia and society. Rebuilding our research ecosystem to be open by default presents us with an opportunity to build more equitable foundations.
As a global community, this means recognising that structural inequalities, discrimination and exclusion continue to persist, even in spaces where open principles are valued.
It means committing to action in order to make real progress. Moreover, it’s an opportunity to rethink the status quo and build resilience by coordinating efforts and engaging all stakeholders.
At Jisc, our vision is for the process and outputs of all research to be as open as possible, so that it can provide the maximum possible benefit to all. In support of Open Access Week 2020, I outline some of the steps we are taking as an organisation to advance open access and build structural equity and inclusion in the research ecosystem.
In thinking about open research infrastructure, it is important to ask ourselves challenging questions. Who is missing? Who is excluded from the business models we serve? And whose interests are being prioritised? This is critical in building sustainable infrastructure that can be truly depended upon for scholarly communication.
What steps are we taking at Jisc?
We’re committed to accelerating the transition to open access and open research, through our range of services that help automate workflows, assess policy compliance and embed good practice, as well as securing innovative open access publishing agreements with publishers.
Below are some recent examples of actions we are taking to build more structural equity and inclusion.
Working in partnership with the global community
Our role in open access is not limited to the UK and we have long contributed at the global level.
This week, in partnership with the Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR), we have released a roadmap for ensuring that OpenDOAR is developed in line with the needs of the repository community. OpenDOAR is more than just a directory and we look forward to increasing its comprehensiveness and utility globally, via our LocalDOAR initiative, repository assessment toolkit and beyond.
Our SHERPA services, which help the community in navigating the changing policy environment, also continue to be used globally. We have been working on several enhancements to increase the coverage of journals in under-represented regions, including South America and Canada.
Opening up the data behind repositories and journals
We’re proud to make the data underpinning SHERPA openly available for non-commercial use, and we continue to hear about innovative ways in which the data is being used to facilitate open access compliance.
We’re also pleased to share that IRUS-UK, which provides institutional repositories with usage data, has also recently integrated with DSpace. Responding to user feedback, we’ll soon be releasing a new version of IRUS that is fully open and supports easier access to data and tools.
Promoting diversity in the marketplace and removing barriers
As well as offering our own low cost, community-driven repository services, we now provide a free purchasing framework for repositories to our members. It simplifies the procurement process and, importantly, surfaces a growing mix of repositories from a range of commercial and non-commercial suppliers that meet minimum criteria, levelling the playing field.
Cost also undoubtedly plays a major role in the open access movement and is intrinsically linked with inclusivity. Jisc continues to lead the way in working with the sector to increase transparency and reduce costs via innovative agreements with publishers such our recent agreement with the Public Library of Science (PLOS).
Embodying best practice in all that we do
As of this month, we’re delighted to have become an adopting organisation of the principles outlined by the Coalition for Diversity and Inclusion in Scholarly Communications (C4DISC). We plan to embed these principles in all of our activities - from how our services are built to how we use governance structures and organise community discussions.
As a membership organisation, we recognise how vital it is to be led by the needs of the sector and engage all stakeholders and groups.
Beyond 2020, we will continue to improve our processes and we welcome your feedback, suggestions and ideas for collaboration, as we work towards a more open, equitable and inclusive research ecosystem.