USIU-Africa Library to mark annual Open Access Week

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By Azenath Ateka

Every year the world celebrates Open Access through a series of activities for a period of one week in the month of October. Open Access (OA) refers to free unrestricted online access to information. Although access to knowledge is critical for societal development, it is important to note that the default setting for the grant of access for the extensive stores of knowledge is closed.

The Open Access initiative focuses on making information that is available online accessible, useable, reusable, and free from legal, financial and technological restrictions. It includes Open Data, Open Science and Open Educational Resources. This year’s theme is Open with Purpose: Taking Action to Build Structural Equity and Inclusion.

According to the Open Access Week Committee, openness can be a powerful tool for building more equitable systems of sharing knowledge.

“Rebuilding research and scholarship to be open by default presents a unique opportunity to construct a foundation that is fundamentally more equitable. Yet today, structural racism, discrimination, and exclusion are present and persistent in places where openness is a core value. As a global community, it is important to understand that the systems and spaces of the present are often built upon legacies of historic injustice and that addressing these inequities is a necessity,” they note.

The value of Open Access to scholars and researchers

Open Access is critical because it:

  • Accelerates research – a wider reach, more readers, hence your field advances and your career develops;

  • Increases research impact – open means a larger potential audience and more readership;

  • Increases the amount of literature that is freely accessible online;

  • Enriches education and reduces the digital divide.

    How you can contribute

    You can contribute to advancing open access by:

  • Submitting your work to an open-access journal;

  • Deposit your publications in an open digital archive hosted by your institution like USIU-Africa Digital Repository;

  • Help launch an open-access journal; serve in the editorial board or referee;

  • Educate your professional association, colleagues and next generation scientists on OA

  • International Open Access Week 2020.

    The Committee notes that diversity, equity and inclusion must be prioritized year round and integrated into the fabric of the open community, from how our infrastructure is built to how we organize community discussions to the governance structures we use.

    “International Open Access Week is an important opportunity to catalyze new conversations, create connections across and between communities that can facilitate this co-design, and advance progress to build more equitable foundations for opening knowledge—discussions and actions that need to be continued, year in and year out,” they note.

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