Open Access Week
Organizers get ready to speak to students and researchers at Open Access Week in Estonia Photo credit: Henri Kirs/Tartu Ülikool

Every year, libraries around the world advocate for change by taking part in International Open Access (OA) Week, a global event established by SPARC and partners in the student community in 2008, which is an opportunity to take action in making openness the default for research — to raise the visibility of scholarship, accelerate research, and turn breakthroughs into better lives.  

Universities, colleges, research institutes, funding agencies, libraries, and think tanks have all used OA Week as a platform to host faculty votes on campus OA policies, to present on the social and economic benefits of OA, to commit new funds in support of OA publication, and more.

The theme of 2019 International Open Access Week, to be held October 21-27, will be “Open for Whom? Equity in Open Knowledge”.

As the transition to a system for sharing knowledge that is open by default accelerates, the question “open for whom?” is essential—both to consider and to act upon. Whose interests are being prioritized in the actions we take and in the platforms that we support? Whose voices are excluded? Are underrepresented groups included as full partners from the beginning? Are we supporting not only open access but also equitable participation in research communication? These questions will determine the extent to which emerging open systems for research will address inequities in the current system or replicate and reinforce them.

This year’s theme will build on the groundwork laid last year when discussions focused on “Designing Equitable Foundations for Open Knowledge.” The 2018 theme highlighted the importance of making a central commitment to equity as we transition toward new systems for sharing knowledge, and the past twelve months have only seen the pace of that transition increase. Because of this, the Open Access Week Advisory Committee decided it was important to focus on equity again in 2019—to deepen our conversations about being inclusive by design and to turn those conversations into action.

We find ourselves at a critical moment. The decisions we make now—individually and collectively—will fundamentally shape the future for many years to come. 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. Asking ourselves and our partners “open for whom?” will help ensure that considerations of equity become and remain central in this period of transition.

International Open Access Week is a global, community-driven week of action to open up access to research. The event is celebrated by individuals, institutions and organizations across the world. The official hashtag of Open Access Week is #OAweek. 

The EIFL Open Access programme encourages libraries across the EIFL network to take part in OA Week, and helps them prepare for this exciting global event.

For me, open access means providing an enabling environment for research to take place anywhere in the world without any barriers to scholarly information.

- Gloria Kadyamatimba, University Librarian at Chinhoyi University of Technology

FACTS

1

EIFL partner countries host advocacy and awareness-raising workshops during Open Access Week.

2

Open Access Week is organized by the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) with advice from programme advisors. Open Access Programme Manager Iryna Kuchma is a member of the OA Week programme committee.