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Open Access Week 2019

Written by
Justyna Burzynska
Published date
25 October 2019

It’s Open Access Week (21 - 27 October) and this year’s theme is “Open for Whom? Equity in Open Knowledge”.

This week, the emphasis is on how “diversity, equity, and inclusion must be prioritized year-round and integrated into the fabric of the open community, from how our infrastructure is built to how we organize community events.” [1] I’d like to reflect on how the Scholarly Communications team manages UAL Research Online to strive for an equitable and open service.

Poster for Open Access Weekend 21 - 27 October

In essence UALRO works by ensuring that our items are easy to find in search engines, and in global Open Access portals.  Someone searches a name, or the title of an exhibition, or a phrase from a paper, and UALRO seamlessly delivers the research to them, so that they can find what they are looking for.

Visitors are never asked to pay for access to research, or to give up their personal data; they just get what they are looking for, or perhaps what they didn’t know they were looking for. Our visitors came from almost every country in the world.

Map of the world showing the figure 25,655 on the bottom right.

We have a passion for the values of Open Access: our goal is to ensure UAL’s research can be ‘downloaded by interested users and scholars all over the world; by people who would not otherwise have access to this work, or even know it exists, without the easy online accessibility that Research Online provides.’ [2]

Scholarly Communications as a sector continues to be “in a perpetual state of disruption” [3]  National and international funders are actively working towards a fully openly accessible research landscape, yet the lack of joined-up policy means that researchers find themselves with several different requirements for the same piece of work; and academic publishers often to make it difficult for scholarly authors to satisfy these requirements. Within this evolving landscape, we use UAL Research Online to ensure that our values of academic freedom, diversity, sustainability and equality are embedded in new scholarly communication models.

As an arts institution we advocate for the recognition of practice based research within academia, reminding national policy-makers of the distinctiveness of scholarly communications in Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. We contribute to national consultations and sector level discussions about scholarly communications and open access regarding practice-based and creative arts research. We are proactively engaged with PRAG-UK, the body established to ‘increase the visibility and accessibility of UK Practice Research and its impact, and to make this research more searchable internationally.' [4]

We support researchers to establish a confidence in using the repository and emphasise the value of preserving and distributing their research in this way. We encourage our researchers to be involved in setting priorities for Open Access and taking an active role in how their work is disseminated. Through presentations and discussion we highlight issues that hinder research from being discovered and for it to flourish out in the world, such as unbalanced economic model of journals and barriers set by paywalls.

Our engagement and discussion with multiple stakeholders, policy makers, researchers and the scholarly communications community ensure that we are abreast of new developments pertaining to the sector and therefore responsive and knowledgeable within the shifting terrain.

Through the support, advocacy and engagement, we endeavour to ensure that UALRO is open for everyone.

[1] Theme of 2019 International Open Access Week To Be “Open for Whom? Equity in Open Knowledge”
[2] Scholarly Communications: What Is Open Access?
[3] The state of the art in peer review