weknowmore.org adopts the ‘open research’ ideology, which results into an open access policy.
Open research is research, conducted in the spirit of free and open source software. The central theme of open research is to make clear accounts of the methodology, along with data and results extracted therefrom, freely available via the internet. This permits a massively distributed collaboration.
If the research is scientific in nature it is frequently referred to as open science.
This stands in line with:
Open Educational Resources [OER]: “digitized materials offered freely and openly for educators, students and self-learners to use and reuse for teaching, learning and research”. OER includes learning content, software tools to develop, use and distribute content, and implementation resources such as open licenses. “Open educational resources” refers to accumulated digital assets that can be adjusted and which provide benefits without restricting the possibilities for others to enjoy them.
Most open research is conducted in existing research groups. Primary research data are posted which can interpreted by anybody. Thus the ‘end product’ of the project arises from many contributions rather than the effort of one group. Open research is therefore distinct from open access in that the output of open research is mutable. Issues of copyright are dealt with by either standard copyright or by releasing the content under licenses such as one of the Creative Commons or one of the GNU General Public Licenses. [source: wikipedia]
The Open Access Debate
In the Open Access debate, there is a collision between the interests of large and powerful collective actors: the academic world, the publishing industry, the public, and the community. When it comes to access to knowledge, scientists and scholars aim at maximum dissemination, and emphasize the new possibilities Controversial Issues in the Context of Open Access offered by the Internet with regard to immediacy, affordability and superiority. What unites academia in all this is the feeling of living in what may be a revolutionary period in which more and more paths for further improvement of the effectiveness of research are opening up. This suggests that academics’ discomfort with the traditional publishing system and its current allocation of resources will increase.
This situation seems quite different from the point of view of commercial information providers. Publishers argue that it is part of their remit and their culture-historical achievement to contribute to the dissemination of knowledge. Many publishers see themselves explicitly as partners of academia, highlighting their massive investment in academic quality assurance and in electronic distribution platforms, and stressing the fact that never before has so much content been available to scientists and scholars as today. Publishers counter the complaints of academics about qualitative restriction by pointing to vast quantitative growth in the form of constantly increasing contents and user numbers. They underscore their competence and experience in ensuring the quality and integrity of the content of articles, warning against underestimating the costs and organization demands of electronic publication and distribution processes, and insisting that there is no alternative to the current subscription model. They counter the brave new world promised by the Internet with warnings about the danger of loss of quality in academic communication.
In the eyes of publishers, Open Access threatens not just the academic journal as a cultural good, but also substantial investments in information infrastructures, jobs, and ultimately a whole industry. Optimum access to knowledge, according to the publishers, will continue to lie in the goods and services offered by commercial information providers (Ralf Schimmer, 2008).
Why should governments adopt a open access approach?
- They expand access to learning for everyone but most of all for nontraditional groups of students and thus widen participation in higher education.
- They can be an efficient way of promoting lifelong learning for both the individual and the government.
- They can bridge the gap between non-formal, informal and formal learning.
Why should institutions adopt a open access approach?
- The altruistic argument that sharing knowledge is in line with academic traditions and a good thing to do.
- Educational institutions (particularly those publicly financed) should leverage taxpayers’ money by allowing free sharing and reuse of resources.
- Quality can be improved and the cost of content development reduced by sharing and reusing.
- It is good for the institution’s public relations to have an OER project as a showcase for attracting new students.
- There is a need to look for new cost recovery models as institutions experience growing competition.
- Open sharing will speed up the development of new learning resources, stimulate internal improvement, innovation and reuse and help the institution to keep good records of materials and their internal and external use.
A further motivation, mentioned by some major distance teaching institutions, is the risk of doing nothing in a rapidly changing environment.
Why should you adopt a open access approach?
- The altruistic motivation of sharing (as for institutions), which again is supported by traditional academic values.
- Personal non-monetary gain, such as publicity, reputation within the open community or “egoboo” as it is sometimes called.
- Free sharing can be good for economic or commercial reasons, as a way of getting publicity, reaching the market more quickly, gaining the first-mover advantage, etc.
- Sometimes it is not worth the effort to keep the resource closed. If it can be of value to other people one might just as well share it for free.
To join our fight for Open Access, please sign the “Petition for guaranteed public access to publicly-funded research results”
To ensure maximum dissemination and collaboration, but to still include certain restrictions you can publish your work under a Creative Commons License here.
Together: we know more!
Sources: – OECD (2006) “Giving Knowledge for Free – The Emergence of Open Educational Resources” Center for Educational Research and Innovation Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development
– Ralf Schimmer (2008) “Controversial Issues in the Context of Open Access” Chapter 4 of “Open Access – Opportunities and challenges – A handbook” by the European Commission and the German Commission for UNESCO, 2008, translated from the original German edition published by the German Commission for UNESCO.