If there’s anything the COVID-19 pandemic has done for us in 2020, it’s magnified the necessity for a broad conversation about the need for a coordinated approach in how research publications are disseminated – specifically the need for universal open access to research globally. It’s also shows that these conversations need to happen not just across not just the university and research sector, but in the public & community sphere as well.
The pandemic has put a spotlight on the dependence on an outdated and inequitable publishing system and flawed career incentive model for researchers. These impediments to open access can be addressed with commitments from both governments and the academic sector to building structural equity and inclusion, through coordinated support for open infrastructure, polices, practices and training.
We’re hoping our latest series of webinars at the end of 2020 – a joint venture with the Council of Australian University Librarians – will help make the case for well funded, stable open infrastructure. The first of our two panel discussions explored how an Australian national strategy might be developed with three individuals who have been key in the development of national strategies in their respective countries: Dr Pirjo-Leena Forsström (IT Centre for Science, Finland); Dr Patricia Clarke (HRB Open Research, Ireland) & Professor Noorsaadah Abd. Rahman (University of Malaya). The second panel heard from three key Australian stakeholders: Dr Cathy Foley, Chief Scientist, CSIRO & Australia’s next Chief Scientist Professor Robyn Owens, Emeritus Professor, and former DVCR UWA Ryan Winn, CEO of Australian Council of Learned Academies. Recordings of the panel discussions are available here. The webinars were very well attended by many participants from across the research sector in Australia and New Zealand, and came on the back of what we think has been our most successful Open Access Week so far.
When we planned our timetable for this year’s OA week activities we hoped to fulfill the sentiment of the Open with Purpose theme. Our line up didn’t disappoint with a record number (1686) of registrations across our 10 online events. Many thanks to our wonderful speakers whose passion for their fields of interest flowed into their presentations which were received with appreciation from an enthusiastic audience. Our online workshops were led with thoughtfulness and skill and provided insights for eager participants who took away some great new skills and knowledge. Our most well attended event was the panel session Indigenous Voices, Indigenous Research and Open Access which brought to the fore the need for the consideration of cultural sensitivities and preservation in the pursuit of knowledge. Our sincere thanks to all contributors, especially our OA Week Steering Group. Recordings of all sessions are available here.
To kick off our Open Access week activities Nobel Laureate Professor Peter Doherty spoke with our Director Dr Ginny Barbour about his passion for science and research, and how publishing has changed during his career. Listen to the interview here.
Throughout the year we were helped enormously by the AOASG Practitioners Group (volunteers from our member institutions) who assisted us with their time, expertise and good humour to help in:
- developing and creating the concepts for teaching modules which will form the basis of our new advocacy workshops in 2021
- analysing our online content for a massive website overhaul and upgrade (coming very soon)
- developing and creating a databank of Open Access Frequently Asked Questions aimed at our main user groups
We also had a good year of public advocacy for open research. Highlights include:
Open science: after the COVID-19 pandemic there can be no return to closed working – Martin Borchert and Ginny Barbour for the Australian Academy of Science
Science publishing has opened up during the coronavirus pandemic. It won’t be easy to keep it that way Ginny Barbour in the Conversation
How Prestige Journals Remain Elite, Exclusive And Exclusionary Ginny Barbour quoted in piece by Madhukar Pai in Forbes
How Open Access Suddenly Became the Norm Ginny Barbour speaking in research symposium IP & education in the age of COVID-19
Ginny Barbour Interviewed on CGTN about COVID-19’s effects on research
2021 looks likely to be an even more active year for advocacy for open access and open research more widely. It will be very important we don’t lose the momentum of 2020. We thank all our member institutions for their support in 2020 and look forward to working with all our members and supporters on whatever the next year brings us.