Open Access Week encourages free online access to research

As Florida State University observes Open Access Week Oct. 21-27, Florida State University Libraries is advancing two campuswide initiatives to support a growing international effort to promote free and immediate online access to scholarly research, and the right to use and re-use research results as needed.

“The open access movement is a natural outgrowth of the utility of the Web to spread information,” said Micah Vandegrift, Florida State’s scholarly communication librarian. “Academic publishing is evolving in many ways, and improving public access to taxpayer-funded research is one aspect of this adaptation that has the potential to increase public investment in the goals and purposes of the university.”

The first initiative, “DigiNole Upload-A-Thon,” is an effort to bulk up the holdings of DigiNole Commons— the university’s institutional repository of scholarly articles — by encouraging at least one faculty member from each academic department to upload an already-published scholarly article.

“This practice is allowed by all major publishers and would make that research available to anyone with an Internet connection,” Vandegrift said. “With more Florida State scholarly research available online, the reputation of individual faculty members and the university will increase.”

Institutional repositories similar to Florida State’s DigiNole Commons are becoming increasingly commonplace at the nation’s universities as a method for achieving open access while continuing to publish research in traditional academic journals. Nineteen of the top 25 public universities as ranked by U.S. News & World Report have adopted policies or resolutions that make their scholarly articles openly accessible.

The second initiative, “Student Statement on the Right to Research,” an open access resolution offered by the Right To Research Coalition, will give individual Florida State students and student organizations the opportunity to endorse the idea of open access as a right.

“University Libraries is working closely with the Student Government Association, the Congress of Graduate Students and other key student groups to spread the word about the value of this growing movement and to encourage students to add their voices to the call for open access,” Vandegrift said.

Alexander Boler, a Florida State graduate student from Palm Harbor, Fla., and speaker of the Congress of Graduate Students, is excited to see this discussion happen in the academic community.

“Being able to find knowledge is just as important as the knowledge itself, so I am thankful that in the digital age, barriers to information are falling rapidly,” Boler said. “The opportunity to make research available so easily is truly exciting. As graduate students, we understand the significance of research in academia, and we hope that Open Access initiatives will increase the power of research.”

On Oct. 9, the Student Senate of Florida State’s Student Government Association passed a resolution in support of open access, and the Congress of Graduate Students is expected to pass a similar resolution Oct. 21. In October 2011, the university’s Faculty Senate passed a resolution endorsing the principle of open access. This is the fourth year that Florida State has celebrated Open Access Week.

To learn more about open access at Florida State, click here.