Purdue Libraries and School of Information Studies News

Welcome to International Open Access Week 2021

October 25th, 2021


International Open Access Week begins today. For many working in open scholarship, this is a time to reflect on Open Access and the role it plays in the dissemination and access of scholarly works. Open Access refers to the free, immediate, online availability of scholarly works, including rights to re-use that content. Open Access scholarly works are free from requirements that readers or libraries pay to read, otherwise known as paywall restrictions. 

Paywalls restrict access to scholarship, creating inequities in information access. Scholars at institutions that can afford to pay have access to cutting edge scholarship and research. Scholars at less advantaged institutions, those in the developing world, and K-12 educators and learners, experience limited access if they have access at all. What’s more, the cost of access to scholarship and research continue to rise at rates that exceed university budget increases. In the end, everyone experiences less and less access to scholarship.

Across the wider scholarly communication system, there is a growing awareness that the current system of paywall restrictions and rising subscription costs is financially unstable. Consequently, we are seeing a global shift towards transparency and openness in the dissemination of research. Key stakeholders are using collective bargaining and collaborative efforts to move towards openly sharing scientific discoveries. What’s more, scholarly publishers are responding to pressure from key stakeholders and offering more paths to open. 

There are many benefits to publishing scholarship using an open model. Open scholarship can be more easily accessed, and is more readily used. Open scholarship is more likely to be used by policy makers as well as practitioners and technicians in the field. It is more highly cited. In addition, since educators cannot teach scholarship that they cannot afford to read, open works are more likely to be used in teaching and learning.

While open access works are free to read, they are not free to publish. With open access, the costs of scholarship have been moved away from consumers to other places. Often, the costs of publishing are moved to authors, in the form of article processing charges (APCs). This is commonly known as Gold Open Access. For many researchers, the fees associated with open access publishing offer an impassable barrier to publication. For others, this means diverting precious research funds to publication fees. Fortunately, Purdue Libraries continues to provide support for open scholarship, including funds for payment of fees as well as building new relationships with publishers that allow free Open Access publishing for Purdue scholars.

Nina Collins, Scholarly Publishing Specialist