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Drexel Libraries Explores the Importance of Free & Accessible Information During Open Access Week 2023

November 10, 2023

Celebrated from October 23 through October 27, International Open Access (OA) Week 2023 provided an opportunity to “join together, take action, and raise awareness around the importance of community control of knowledge sharing systems.”


This year, the Drexel University Libraries hosted four of its own OA Week events, all of which supported this year’s theme of “Community over Commercialization.”


Events included a keynote address presented by the Director of Programs & Engagement for the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) and sessions led by prominent Drexel researchers. Each session drew a diverse audience, including Drexel faculty, staff, and students from across colleges and disciplines and members of the general public.


Open Research Policies, Publisher Platforms, and the Future of Scholarship

The engaging keynote discussion with Nick Shockey, Director of Programs & Engagement for SPARC, delved into some exciting developments in Open Access.


To start, Shockey offered a simple definition of Open Access: “The free and immediate access to scientific and scholarly articles with full reuse rights – so both free access to the articles, paired with the ability to reuse [them] fully.” He stressed that Open Access should be a core academic priority, especially given that high scholarly journal prices have created barriers for scholarship and have produced a “multi-billion dollar a year revenue producing [publishing] industry, even larger than the NFL.”


His presentation emphasized the importance of focusing on community interests, asserting that favoring community needs over commercialization can have great implications for academic freedom, privacy, and the trajectory of research. Highlighting that Open Access is a global trend and priority, he pointed to the community focus in South America:


“Latin America has long been a leader, even before the United States and Europe, in open research and particularly community focused open research with much less of a commercial ownership aspect. A lot of the Latin American Open Access infrastructure is really community-owned and based within nonprofit organizations and universities.”


Open Access in Practice: Pro’s, Cons, and Leveraging OA Publishing to Globally Disseminate Research

Three other events highlighted the researcher perspective and examined first-hand experiences and applications of Open Access publishing.


Professor Girija Kaimal, EdD, College of Nursing & Health Professions, spoke about the OA publishing process and described how making her research on creative art therapies free and open to the public has helped her expand the reach of her work.


Later in the week, Michael Bruneau, Jr., PhD, College of Nursing & Health Professions, spoke about the evolving landscape of Open Access publishing in exercise science research and offered a balanced perspective on some pros and cons of OA publishing.


And finally, to end the week, Professor Usama Bilal, PhD, MPH, MD, and Professor Josiah Kephart, PhD, MPH, from the Dornsife School of Public Health presented the results of the Salud Urbana en América Latina (SALURBAL) study and discussed how Open Access publishing has helped them disseminate their work across the world.


To end each session, audience members asked questions and offered their own views of Open Access. Kathleen Turner, one of Drexel’s librarians, summed it up nicely:


“[Discussion about Open Access] really brings it home that there can be a deeper purpose… that you’re trying to influence policy, you’re trying to influence public thought, and that can’t really happen when all of the research is hidden behind paywalls and really only available to the rest of the academic world.”


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