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Last month, she travelled to Berlin, Germany to attend an open access (OA) conference. Tracey Vantyghem – a newly minted librarian from UBC’s School of Library, Archival, and Information Studies (SLAIS) – stated:

“As a student librarian with UBC, I’ve seen how well-placed the library is to act as a hub for advocacy and education in Open Access. I wanted to attend Berlin 11 to learn more about the OA movement in general, and about becoming an effective advocate for making academic research more openly available.”

Vantyghem was referring to the inaugural Berlin 11 Student and Early Stage Researcher Satellite Conference which was held on November 18, 2013 in Berlin, Germany. This OA event was hosted by the Max Planck Society and the Right to Research Coalition.

One of her favorite OA talks was presented by Jack Andraka, “a 15 year-old who’s made a breakthrough in cancer detection. He’s developed a way to test for pancreatic cancer that can diagnose it much earlier than current methods (when a person still has an almost 100% chance of survival), and costs just a few cents. (You can see his TED Talk about it here). Andraka was in high school when he was working on this, and so he was only able to research using free online academic journals in the US National Institute of Health’s database, PubMed Central. Articles behind paywalls cost around $35 each, so without Open Access he simply wouldn’t have had access to the information he needed.”

She continues, “This, to me, was a really amazing example of the increased potential for research to be read, used, and to have a positive impact when it’s openly available, and this is increasingly true as the rising cost of academic journals is creating huge access gaps around the world. When you consider that Harvard University subscribed to 98,900 academic journals in 2008, and the best-funded research institution in India only had access to 10,600[1], you get a sense of how many researchers, policy makers, health-care workers, and even members of the public are going without access to information that could make a big difference.”

When asked about any key OA strategies, resources/tools and trends she discovered that could be helpful to UBC graduate students trying to increase their research impact, she mentions “the launch of the Open Access Button. The OA button is a browser plug-in that aims to show the global effects of research paywalls. Users install the button and then press it when they can’t access the research they need. The plug-in adds this information to a global map showing how many paywalls are being hit globally, and then (and this is the really cool part) helps users to search for an open access version of that article – like those in cIRcle.”

One recommendation she provides is “that other UBC graduate students apply to attend the Berlin Satellite Conference in the future”. She also adds that, “Today’s young researchers are the next generation of academic leaders, and I think that if we are educated and engaged with this movement, we have the potential to bring really positive change to scholarly publishing, and to make knowledge more available to everyone.”

Vantyghem concluded that, “In the meantime, there are definitely ways to get involved: check out the Right to Research Coalition, a coalition of student organizations that advocates for an open scholarly publishing system to learn more and find out how to get involved (you can also look up this R2R on twitter). Or just start by adopting Open Access yourself – it’s as easy as putting your work in cIRcle so others can read and use it.”

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[1] Suber, P. (2012). Open Access. MIT Press.

Above photo is courtesy of the Berlin 11 Satellite Conference site

Did You Know?

The GSS cIRcle Open Scholar Award aims to feature UBC as a leader in the open dissemination of graduate student work. UBC Vancouver graduate students upload their own work into the GSS cIRcle Open Scholar Award collection at: https://circle.ubc.ca/handle/2429/42591. Any exemplary non-thesis coursework or manuscript is subject to instructor approval.

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