Your Open Access: In order to …

Kyle Brady
Friday 27 October 2017

Open Access Week 2017 has been busy, everywhere.   This year’s theme “Your Open Access: In order to …” has been about going beyond enabling OA and the team has continued engaging with many active researchers, learning how they’re shaping OA and how it in turn influences their work and practice.

I learned that ORCiDs uniquely identify researchers across their careers, ensure they gain credit for their research and help manage permissions to populate ORCiD and other databases with their publications metadata. Even better, they can also make it easier to populate grant applications! It’s rapidly developing into an important part of the research information infrastructure internationally.

And it’s not only researchers who do Open Access. The Library launched its new statistics and infographic describing items and their usage from the St Andrews Research Repository. This is a good example of data that was previously used in limited situations to drive an open information resource.  The data is derived from our IRUS UK statistics using the more accurate COUNTER usage standard. We think this represents a responsible use of metrics to give an indication of relative levels of content and repository use, to reflect constantly changing content and usage.

This year we are very pleased St Andrews hosted an academic-led event in Open Access Week. The Library participated in the Scottish launch of Professor Aileen Fyfe’s report Untangling Academic Publishing. In her fascinating opening talk, Aileen outlined the history of modern scientific scholarly communication from its humble loss-making origins in Europe and North America to the billion dollar international market it is today. And why the commercial model has become a barrier to the free exchange of scholarship. I was interested to learn that some researchers are using institutional repositories to host preprints of their article for informal peer review. There were hints that training might be needed to help researchers understand social media and how to make their articles more visible.  A lot of ground needs to be covered before researchers “take back control” from publishers.

So what about the nitty-gritty of academic research? What do you do when you see that essential article, but it’s pay-walled? Our own Jackie Proven suggests several platforms like BASE and tools like Unpaywall that enable discovery of legal Open Access content. Platforms help by using shared standards to expose good quality metadata; tools help to locate Open Access versions of articles at the point of article discovery.

As the week has unfolded it’s become clear that Open Access is driving lots of different types of change in scholarly communication. From technical innovations in research publications infrastructure like ORCiD to researchers using platforms in new ways outside their disciplinary norms. It’s a community effort.

The Open Access Support team would love to invite researcher feedback on their user stories.  We would love to learn how St Andrews researchers are using Open Access platforms and tools to promote their research in traditional or new ways.  Please do not hesitate to get in touch at [email protected] if you would share your story. 

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