A letter from SPARC

The largest, most successful International Open Access Week yet has just come to a close. With just under 900 participants in 94 countries, this year’s event was no less than three times larger than it was just a year ago. Hundreds of videos, photos, blog posts, and more were released to promote and highlight the benefits of Open Access to research and take the conversation even more deeply into the research community – and they absolutely did.

We could celebrate the week as a success in numbers like these alone, but the numbers really only tell part of the story.

The increase in diversity of participants is even more telling. Started as a student-driven event in 2007 with support from SPARC and the library community, Open Access Day was at first a library-centric affair. Having grown in recognition and participation every year since, in 2010 we truly began to make deep inroads into the academy.

The student stake in the conversation on access continues to grow more firm, but this year participants from the academy – including humanists, climate change scientists, provosts, research funders, Nobelists, and lawyers – really took advantage of the occasion to share their insights on how Open Access has had an impact on their work and lives.

Nobel prize-winning scientist and director of the U.S. National Cancer Institute Dr. Harold Varmus participated in the official OA Week kick-off event, saying, with respect to where open-access publishing has reached and what’s now possible: “All of these adventures are tremendously exciting because they markedly enrich the experience of being a scientist, of reading the work of others, and of exchanging views with others in the scientific community.” Dr. Varmus’s comments are online at http://vimeo.com/15881200.

In his video, Dr. Nico Sommerdijk, associate professor of Chemical Engineering and Chemistry at the Dutch Eindhoven University of Technology, expresses a need for moving beyond traditional publishing approaches to share data. He made his research data openly available so that now, “Everybody can access [the data set] directly with one click of your computer mouse. People may use the same data set for things that we were not looking for and so generate new science with the same scientific data set.” (http://www.openaccessweek.org/video/open-access-of-data-generates)

The stories that were shared are inspiring, but so was the creativity of the delivery.

In Portugal, the Polytechnic Institute of Santarém held a portion of their Open Access Week program in Second Life. (http://www.openaccessweek.org/xn/detail/5385115:Event:9662?xg_sourc...)

Students at Boston University made a video to illustrate that studying without access to the resources you need is like having half a sock to wear, half a hotdog to eat, or half a book to read (http://www.openaccessweek.org/video/open-access).

And, in Open Families (http://www.arl.org/sparc/openaccess/openfamilies), scientists relate in personal and compelling terms how Open Access to the research and data they produce, as well as that produced by others, is not just a professional cause for them but a family affair.

All these contributions to the conversation – in writing, photo, and video – are a fantastic resource that will help us all to continue the conversation over the course of the year and beyond, and are a sure sign of the growing momentum behind Open Access Week. Of course, the growing size and power of the global network also continues to impress.

Open Access Week 2010 was also a great reminder to us of the work and opportunities that lie ahead. We’ve isolated a need to dig deeper into the academy and find ways to meet faculty on their own terms – to find ways to bring Open Access Week, so to speak, to campus every day of the year. While we’ve made crucial advances, we’ve only just started to make the inroads needed to engage the community of scholars and researchers.

We’ve made fantastic progress, with awareness-raising around Week and with advancing Open Access as a new norm in scholarship. Congratulations to every single person who worked so hard to ensure the success of the event – locally, regionally, nationally, and globally. And, thank you!

SPARC also extends special thanks to the members of the 2010 Open Access Week program advisers (http://www.openaccessweek.org/group/programadvisers), SPARC members (http://www.arl.org/sparc/member), and everyone we’ve had the pleasure in working with this year. Thank you.

Naturally, there’s more to come. Watch for more OA Week round-up materials from SPARC, including more videos, throughout the week. And, course, there’s Open Access Week 2011 to look forward to!

Warm wishes,

Heather Joseph, Executive Director

Jennifer McLennan, Program Director for Open Access Week

On behalf of the 2010 Open Access Week Program Advisers

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