Happy Open Access Week!

This week, Albertsons Library is celebrating Open Access Week, an international event designed to highlight and bring attention to the incredible benefit that is achieved by making the research produced at universities, like Boise State, openly available to the public.

“Open Access” refers to the free, immediate, online access to the results of scholarly research, and the right to use and re-use those results as needed. Currently, most research produced at universities is distributed through peer-reviewed journals that are then sold for profit. Although journals serve important functions, such as managing the peer-review process, the subscription and licensing costs charged to universities, researchers, and the general public, creates an incredible barrier to being able to access that research. Additionally, increasing journal prices are placing tremendous strains on library budgets, further restricting access to important discoveries.

In response, libraries, like Albertsons Library, along with other groups such as the Alliance for Taxpayer Access, Association of Research Libraries, and Creative Commons, are working to raise awareness and make scholarship openly available. Locally, Albertsons Library manages ScholarWorks, a collection of services designed to capture and showcase Boise State’s scholarship.

By working with faculty, ScholarWorks staff identify Boise State publications, review and secure the necessary rights, and then posts the publications openly online. In many cases, the faculty member has transferred their copyrights to the publisher who then limits what can be done with that research. Sometimes however, they will grant back to the author the right to post an earlier, peer-reviewed version of their manuscript. In those cases, ScholarWorks staff will work with the author to post the allowed version, making their scholarship discoverable.

Another important way Albertsons Library is helping promote the discovery of original research is by providing methods for student researchers to disseminate their scholarship. Working with other groups on campus, such as the Graduate College and Student Research Initiative, ScholarWorks openly posts theses, dissertations, project reports, and conference posters for students who would like to share their work and showcase their academic accomplishments. Since beginning ScholarWorks, student research is one of the most frequently downloaded types of scholarship. In fact, the theses and dissertations collection alone has received over 150,000 downloads.

Openly accessible scholarship has tremendous benefits for authors, universities, and the community at large. Not only does it make Boise State’s scholarship more readily available, it empowers the public, often the direct funders of such research, to benefit as well. Additionally, businesses, not-for-profits, and government agencies also benefit from being able to gain access to needed research for development and decision-making.

Happy Open Access Week, Boise State!

Still not sure you get it? Try this video for a quick overview of Open Access.

Michelle Armstrong,
Scholarly Communications and Data Management Librarian

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