Open Access Week encourages undergraduate research, information sharing

Research — it’s something the University is known for.

Not only faculty and graduate students engage in research, undergraduates contribute as well.

Last year, more than 400 students participated in the undergraduate research experience program.

“You come to a place like KU because it’s a research university, and as students, they can get involved with research and understand how knowledge is created,” said John Augusto, director of the Center for Undergraduate Research.

The University has also been a global leader in the international movement for open access, aiming to make its peer-reviewed academic research available to the public. This week the University will be hosting an Open Access Week to educate students.

Former Provost David Shulenburger began talking about the issue back in the late 1990s. Since then, many champions of open access emerged from the University, including the Dean of Libraries Lorraine Haricombe, Provost Jeffrey Vitter, and the Office of Scholarly Communication and the Copyright Office of KU Libraries.

“People are really interested in how we are doing this in Kansas,” said Ada Emmett, head of Scholarly Communication and Copyright Office. KU Libraries spearhead the open access movement at the University as the center of scholarship coming in and out.

“Other schools like Harvard and MIT had significant success with open access, but when a school like Kansas has success, other universities see and say, ‘we are more like Kansas, so if Kansas can do it, maybe we can do it,’” Emmett said.

The University is not the only campus celebrating Open Access Week to raise awareness. More than 900 other institutions in 90 countries are participating as well.

“It’s really important for the University to communicate our commitment to the global scholarly community that way,” said Katie Coffman, communications coordinator for KU Libraries.

This is the fourth annual Open Access Week here since the University became the first public university to adopt a faculty-led open access policy in 2009, Coffman said. Under the policy, faculty voluntarily make their research available through KU ScholarWorks, a public online repository for research done at the University.

Having open access in academia has become increasingly important as the cost of academic journals shot up.

“Universities always wanted to disseminate scholarship and have that dissemination of scholarship have impact on the world,” Emmett said. “If the dissemination is closed off and narrowed, you can’t have as great an impact.”

The University spends more than $4.5 million every year for subscriptions to academic journals and the cost has been increasing.

”You are becoming part of a system where access to scholarship is becoming more and more limited because publishers can make money off of having limited access,” Emmett said.

Because of the closed access nature of many academic journals, tuition costs are increasing for students, and individuals outside the University are even further removed from access to scholarship.

Anyone interested in the open access movement is encouraged to attend the Open Access Week’s events held at the Watson Library. They are designed to engage people in discussions on how open access will change the impact of their research.

“I think students will come away from it with a better understanding of the empowerment people can get from access to information,” Coffman said.

“Even if students aren’t putting out research themselves, they can see just how critical it is to make that information freely available for the advancement of research and society.”

  • Updated Oct. 21, 2013 at 1:09 am
  • Edited by Casey Hutchins