Open Access Week 2012: OpenUCT’s events – a recap

Last Friday, 26 October, marked the end of Open Access Week 2012.  This international event, which turned six this year, aims to inform researchers, academics and students about open access and inspire them to share not only this knowledge but also their research outputs.  OpenUCT ran several successful events last week, (22 to 26 October) exploring open access and closely tied topics.  For those of you who couldn’t join us, here’s a brief recap of what went on, including links to the presentations.

What is Open Access?

The first event of the week (22 October), ‘Demystifying Open Access’ by OpenUCT Director Laura Czerniewicz, introduced open access and explained the opportunities it provides to academics for improving their outputs’ online visibility.  Open access is “the free, immediate, online access to the results of scholarly research, and the right to use and re-use those results as you need”. 

Open access is not just restricted to journal articles but increasingly also covers other scholarly outputs.  Openness exposes online content to both academics around the globe and a wider audience, including the public.  It enables faster growth of the body of knowledge by speeding up the process of information reaching those who need it.  This effects development, enables innovation and allows for broader participation in research.  Open access is becoming increasingly mainstream with several funding agencies and research councils starting to require research they fund to be published in open access journals.

All about the impact

Publishing open access increases the accessibility to and visibility of your research and research outputs.  If your article (and any related data, etc.) can be accessed freely and immediately after publication, the potential impact your work can have increases.  This impact is not only the traditional impact of journal articles measured by citations - this is the tip of the iceberg!  People are tweeting the link to your paper, bookmarking the paper in Mendeley and blogging about your latest findings. 

Michelle Willmers, Programme Manager of Scholarly Communication in Africa Programme (SCAP), introduced alternative metrics (altmetrics) in her talk 'Exploring ‘Impact’: An introduction to new tools and approaches for alternative scholarship metrics' on 23 October.  Altmetrics expands our view of impact. There are new tools to analyse impact and look at altmetrics (e.g. ImpactStory) springing up to examine and quantify these and help us better grasp our increasingly diverse scholarly communication landscape. 

Creative Commons as a management solution for copyright

In our increasingly digital world, sharing your latest paper or downloading a figure to use in your next presentation can be achieved through one click.  However, just because it is possible to share or download something, doesn’t mean you’re legally allowed to.  'Finding Open Stuff' (24 October) and the 'Creative Commons Practical Workshop' (25 October), both presented by Shihaam Shaikh, OpenUCT's Manager and legal advisor, provided a starter-guide to being aware of what you can legally use and share, finding open content online and licensing your own outputs to make clear how you want them to be used and shared.

Digital footprints and shadows

If you use the web, you have an online presence.  As an academic, being aware of how you appear online and making use of the digital world to increase your visibility and that of your outputs can increase your impact. In 'Academics' online presence: assessing and shaping your online visibility' presented on 26 October by Sarah Goodier, OpenUCT intern, potential ways for academics’ increasing their visibility were covered.  This included that of their research and other outputs, in the context of sharing what they can and ‘going open’. 

Please browse the presentations linked to this post, start to learn about open access and spread the word.  We hope to see you at our Open Access Week events next year!