Welcome to Open Access Week 2013!

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Welcome to Open Access Week 2013! For the next seven days, researchers, librarians and members of the public around the world are holding lectures, debates and public gatherings to discuss the global move to open up scholarly research.

By ‘open’, we mean free of all legal and technical restrictions on access and reuse, for everyone. At present, much of the world’s scholarly output is both prohibitively expensive and locked away under ‘All Rights Reserved’ copyright.  The good news is that change is coming: in the last eighteen months, we’ve  seen a slew of mandates and policies — from both funding bodies and research institutions — insisting that publicly funded research be made publicly available.

Keeping track of these policies can be difficult. OA is still relatively new, and we are seeing funders and research institutions take a range of different approaches to OA; OA has, in turn, produced its own idiosyncratic vocabulary. Is it Green? Or Gold? Or some other colour altogether? How about libre? Or gratis? Post-print or pre-print? Is there an embargo? And what is this ‘Creative Commons’ I keep hearing so much about?

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Kiwi Open Access Logo by the University of Auckland, Libraries and Learning Services is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

And so, it should come as no surprise that, as these policies are drafted and implemented, there has been be a great deal of debate.

On the one hand, some argue that OA fails to take into account the economics of publishing high quality scholarly research, and that smaller publishers simply will not survive a world where research is free and open. On the other hand, some point to the success of new publishing models — like PLOS And PeerJ — and argue that the basic principal of open access and licensing for publicly funded research, coupled with the potential of the internet to disseminate information, is simply too great to ignore.

There are, of course, between and beyond these simple poles, many other points of view. While Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand takes the latter position — our mission, after all, is to realise the full potential of the Internet — our own community is very broad, with community members taking a range of differing positions. We understand, as a result, that the transition to OA will not be simple or easy, and that we will need a wide-ranging and open debate as the transition to OA proceeds.

This is where Open Access Week comes in. Now in its sixth year, OA Week aims to “connect the global momentum toward open sharing with the advancement of policy changes on the local level.” With that in mind, New Zealand has taken its place as a small but significant part of this global discussion. Last year, researchers and librarians around the country organised OA Week events, and this year is no different.

Auckland University is holding a range of public events (including a talk from Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand, 2pm Tuesday). Lincoln University – which recently became New Zealand’s first open access university – is also holding a series of events, including a discussion of researchers’ experiences with OA.

Australia, too, is holding a series of OA Week events – at least one in every Australia state. Their Open Access Support Group has more information about what’s happening in Australia.

And what about Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand? First of all, we’ve made an A5 resource, Open Access in Aotearoa, to introduce people to the basic concepts of open access to scholarly research, which you can find on our Research homepage.

We’re also doing our bit by repeating a scaled-down version of last year’s Open Access Week blog posts. For the entire week, we’re hosting blog posts by a range of publishers, technologists, librarians and researchers, sharing their thoughts on everything from peer review to open data. Watch this space for more information over the days ahead!

[The Open Access Week Banner is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Unported licence.]

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