Purdue Libraries and School of Information Studies News

The Importance of Open Access Scholarship in Structural Equity and Inclusion

October 20th, 2020

By: Mark Puente, Associate Dean for Organizational Development, Inclusion and Diversity

Photo Courtesy of Mark Puente

The theme for the 2020 Open Access Week is “Open with Purpose: Taking Action to Build Structural Equity and Inclusion.” The theme is timely in light of the structural inequities that have come to light in recent months with the global pandemic as well as the world-wide protests and social unrest that have been a product of the killing of George Floyd in June. Although, at the surface, it might be difficult to see any connection between these phenomena and structures related to scholarly output and dissemination, it serves as a stark reminder of the interconnectedness of things like research output and the commodification and corporatization of higher education. 

I think many of us know that our current systems in this realm are not sustainable and that they privilege organizations and institutions that have long benefited from the “usual” ways of doing things to the detriment or disadvantage of other stakeholders. But how does “open” help to address these broader structural inequities? Is it a panacea or simply a cog within a larger mechanism that needs significant overhaul and restructuring in order to run efficiently while accomplishing the function intended? It may be the latter, but with an understanding that no complex mechanism can run if it has a critical, structural piece missing. 

Perhaps, in some ways, open access to scholarly content and educational resources can serve as a model for delivering on the promise of equity as we engage in critical analysis of broader educational and societal systems that must be reimagined and rebuilt. Open Access Week provides an excellent opportunity to explore these issues and to imagine what we might be able to accomplish collaboratively if we think boldly about making structural change.


Join us as we explore important questions like these in a special Open Access Week virtual panel event:

Register now!