Why Open Access?

Why Open Access?

We engage and invest in research in order to encourage innovation and creativity, enrich education, and accelerate the pace of discovery.  Communication of the results of research is an essential component of the research process, and enabling broad, unfettered access to new knowledge plays a key role in ensuring that the scholarly publishing system supports the needs of scholars and the academic enterprise as a whole.

Yet because of cost barriers or use restrictions, research results are often not available to the full community of potential users.  The Internet gives us the opportunity to bring this information to a worldwide audience at virtually no marginal cost and allows us to use it in new, innovative ways. This has resulted in a new framework: Open Access.

What is open access and why does it matter?  Materials published in an open access journal or digital repository are available online to anyone anywhere for download and use without restrictions or payment by the user.  There are many benefits to a system of open access scholarship:

  • Research is more accessible and useable.
  • Articles published open access may be cited more and be more influential than those that have not.
  • Institutions that support research – from public and private research funders to higher education institutions – are implementing policies that encourage (and in some instances require) researchers to make research generated from their funding openly accessible to and fully useable by the public.
  • Researchers have access to scholarship regardless of institutional affiliation.
  • Students have access to scholarship after they graduate.
  • Scholarly conversations are advanced through broader participation.
  • Creative work and new discoveries are encouraged as scholars can build on open research.

OA at the UW: In April 2009, the UW Faculty Senate approved a Class C Resolution on Scholarly Publishing Alternatives and Authors’ Rights,  encouraging faculty to publish in “moderately priced journals, in journals published by professional societies and associations, or in peer-reviewed ‘open access’ journals,” and to archive their work in open access repositories.  In 2015 the Senate advanced this work via another resolution, Concerning the UW Open Access Repository & Request for Advice on an Open Access Policy, which requested that a UW Open Access Policy be drafted for review by the faculty. This work is ongoing, more on this to come!

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