As many of you may know I’m a huge fan of the whole open access movement. I think that research (especially research paid for by the taxpayer) should be easily accessible and not hidden behind paywalls.
My main area of interest is health libraries and I think in this area more than any other it is so important for us to get behind open access. Open access allows for information to get to the consumer quicker, and makes it easier to find and use. We expect doctors to practice evidence-based medicine and removing paywalls can only help to encourage them to access research and allow it to inform their work. At the moment doctors access to information may very much depend on their place of work or whether they are involved in extra training (i.e. undertaking courses in universities).
The NIH open access policy in the US has really helped to provide access to quality peer-reviewed health research. Many other governments and other organisations are now getting in on the action.
The Irish government launched the National Principles for Open Access Policy Statement last year and the Health Research Board also has an open access policy. Lenus, the open access health repository has just been added to RIAN which is a site that harvests research from different institutions, mainly Irish universities, into one portal.
Of course, open access is not just relevant to health research. There are many people who would benefit from less paywalls and more access. I know personally I would like to continue researching my own field of library and information studies but it is far more difficult without the access I had through UCD.
Whatever your own opinion of open access, one thing that is clear is that it is a growth area and it is garnering increased support.
Today saw the launch of the Open Access Button which is a project attempting to track the impact of paywalls and help people to gain access to the research they need. You can read the press release here.
I think this is a really interesting project and hopefully it will help to highlight some of the problems with paywalls.
Go to http://www.openaccessbutton.org/ to read more, or download your own button to become part of the project.
Best of luck to all those involved and I’m looking forward to following the project.