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Drexel Researchers Shine Spotlight on the Benefits of Open Access Publishing

November 9, 2022

Last month, the Drexel Libraries joined universities and researchers around the world for the 11th annual International Open Access Week, held October 24 - 30. The theme for OA Week 2022 was “Open for Climate Justice” and provided an opportunity for members of the global research community to “come together, take action and raise awareness around how open access can be a means for climate justice.”

The Drexel Libraries held a mix of virtual and hybrid events throughout OA Week, including four researcher table talks and one keynote session. More than 75 Drexel faculty, staff, and students attended the five events, all of which showcased the benefits of free, open access to information. Hybrid events were held in-person in the W. W. Hagerty Library and online via Zoom for those who couldn’t participate on campus.

Open for Climate Justice

During the Libraries’ keynote presentation, Drexel Associate Professor of Politics Gwen Ottinger, PhD, addressed the importance of making environmental research—particularly environmental data—openly available.

“Getting published research out from behind paywalls is important, but here I’m talking about the data with which one can create knowledge,” explained Professor Ottinger during her keynote session. “For access to be meaningful, you need to be able to ask questions that the originators of the data hadn’t thought of. You want to be able to create new knowledge. And that requires infrastructure—software and hardware and collaboration across disciplines.”

She went on to describe her team’s research and their work to create, a database designed to make refinery fenceline monitoring data openly available, easy to access, and easy to download for any researchers and communities who want to know what they are breathing.

“We are trying to build infrastructure and a cross-sector collaboration to see where we can tackle issues of findability, accessibility, interoperability,” Ottinger said. “How can you take public data that exists out there and make it accessible in a way that can advance our knowledge of environmental issues—and hopefully—our action on it? If all the knowledge about environmental issues is sitting with regulatory agencies, then it helps regulatory agendas. If you have activist organizations with access to that [information], then different agendas can emerge.”

Increasing Access to Drexel Research

The Libraries’ OA Week activities also included four 30-minute researcher table talks, which featured Drexel faculty and post-graduate researchers who recently published their articles in Open Access journals using funding provided by the Drexel Libraries’ Open Access Publishing Pilot Fund. During each 30-minute session, a different Drexel researcher spoke about their work and how they have benefited from the OA publishing model. 

“Science is built upon the mountains of past work, and having access to it allows me to learn from the research of past scientists,” said Liangyu Tao, a PhD student and research assistant in the School of Biomedical Engineering, Science & Health Systems, during his table talk. “I want to focus on two main benefits of open access. First, [authors retain the copyright to their papers under Open Access]. And second, Open Access [articles] are freely available to the general public and to institutions who do not have access to [subscription-based] publications... These advantages allow for the democratization of the dissemination of information... and it increases the reach and impact of research.”

Other OA Week speakers included Loni Tabb, PhD, Associate Professor of Epidemiology & Biostatistics, Dornsife School of Public Health; Bahrad Sokhansanj, PhD, Assistant Research Professor, College of Engineering; and Pratusha Reddy, Research & Teaching Assistant, School of Biomedical Engineering, Science & Health Systems.

Missed the Libraries’ OA Week events? Watch the event recordings on the Libraries’ YouTube Channel.