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Open Access Week 2020 – Open with Purpose: Taking Action to Build Structural Equity and Inclusion

The theme for International Open Access Week 2020 builds on previous year’s discussions. 2018 was “Designing Equitable Foundations for Open Knowledge”, 2019 was “Open for Whom? Equity in Open Knowledge” and 2020 progresses the conversation with its theme “Open with purpose: Taking action to build structural equity and inclusion”.

So what does that mean? This means that all stakeholders (publishers, authors, researchers, funders and  other communities and institutions) need to talk with one another to decide a way forward to make knowledge open, equitable, inclusive and diverse, not just for the readers but for everyone. There also needs to be a commitment by all to move beyond just talking to actually put these processes for making OA the norm and not the exception into place.

Why does this matter? Open Access to information is important for several reasons and to several groups of people. You probably fall into one or more categories.

Students: Not just limited to what their institution can afford subscriptions to and once they’ve finished studying, they won’t lose access to current research in their field.

Researchers: Better visibility and higher impact for your work. If no one sees your work (unless they can afford a subscription or work somewhere that does) how can it be truly effective and impactful? It also reduces the risk of duplication of effort and resources. OA allows researchers to communicate with others in their fields more effectively and collaboratively.

Medical professionals: Without access to the latest high-quality research and evidence of best practices, medical professionals can be putting patient’s lives at risk. Opening access to research allows for better decision-making processes for all involved which leads to more effective treatment and better health outcomes. Patients are a vital part of the evidence-based decision-making process and also need access to quality research information to make those informed decisions about their care.

Developing countries: These have the same groups that require access to research but with more barriers to access. None have the budget to afford several expensive subscriptions which means they can only access a small portion of available research. People in these nations have just as much right to quality information as those in developed countries. Researchers in developing countries are doing important work on diseases like HIV/AIDS and disease of poverty, but when their research isn’t openly available it impacts the policy makers in their own countries and their research impact is limited.

Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses: without access to open research it’s harder to innovate in a timely fashion.

The Public: As taxpayers, our money has funded a great deal of research that’s been published in journals. We have a right to see the results of that research and for those taxpayers who are also researchers, it allows them to build on those ideas sooner and make advances that could change the world.

Publishers: by making their articles OA, it increases the journal’s visibility and thereby the potential for impact.

(Right to research coalition)

As you can see, Open Access benefits all and advances us as a global society. This is why we need to take action to build structural equity and inclusion into our research and scholarly publishing.


This year, the OA Week activities are all online. QUT Library is hosting two events, Datasets for Research: Open with purpose on Wednesday afternoon at 2pm and a special short presentation in Hacky Hour on Thursday at 2pm. Find out more by clicking on the links and registration for both are essential.

In previous years we have visited the Gardens Point and Kelvin Grove campuses with our trusty, OA Week bike. This year, we have an interactive map of QUT, where you can use the (image of) bike to check out the success stories of researchers at QUT, publishing in the OA space. Check the blog next week to see more.

The Australasian Open Access Strategy Group (AOASG) are running a 2-hour program each day from 11-1pm which includes a talk and a workshop on an area of OA. Some of the topics include: Preprints – a practical guide; Indigenous voice, indigenous research and open access; Beyond open access – what should our aims be for full accessibility; Connecting up open data via Wikidata and Investing in the infrastructure for Open. There is so much more, so for full details and to register, click here.

To find out more about Open Access, click here.

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