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Events to spark discussion about open access

Are Canadian scholars approaching the open access “tipping point” whereby the default form of publication is online and unrestricted?

That’s just one of the many questions the Queen’s community will discuss during Open Access Week Oct. 20-26.

“Open access is gaining steam with some disciplines such as the sciences ahead of others,” says Mark Swartz, Copyright Specialist, Queen’s University Library. “We have come a long way, but there’s still a ways to go. Open Access Week aims to address those barriers that remain as well as promote awareness and understanding of open access.”

Michael Geist, a leading scholar in the field and the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-Commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, will deliver the keynote address on Thursday, Oct. 23 in the atrium of The Atrium, the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, at 1 pm. Dr. Geist will examine the growth of open access, the urgency for open access mandates in Canada, and the remaining barriers to open access adoption.

Open Access Week is a global event entering its eighth year. This year’s theme is “Generation Open” with a particular focus on young people and their relationship to open access.

"Open access is gaining steam ... We have come a long way, but there’s still a ways to go. Open Access Week aims to address those barriers."


- Mark Swartz, Copyright Specialist, Queen's University Library

This year’s theme plays out at Queen’s in multiple ways. Last year, for instance, undergraduate politics students launched an open access journal. The current managing editors, Michael Oshell and Wudassie Semaneh-Tamrat, will contribute to a panel discussion on managing and editing open access journals following Dr. Geist’s talk. The panel will also include David Murakami Wood (Sociology), the Canada Research Chair in Surveillance Studies and the editor of the journal Surveillance Studies, and Jon Igelmo Zaldívar, a postdoctoral fellow at Queen's and Universidad de Deusto and the managing editor of Encounters on Education.

Undergraduate students have also made open access resources a priority, according to Colin Zarzour, Academic Affairs Commissioner, Alma Mater Society (AMS). The AMS and the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance, which represents 140,000 professional and undergraduate students at seven universities, have a standing policy urging the province to invest in open educational resources and textbooks.

“British Columbia is currently using a model that allows a hub of textbooks from the 40 highest-impact first- and second-year courses to be free online, which is directly benefitting approximately 200,000 of the province’s 266,745 students. That’s pretty amazing,” Mr. Zarzour says. “We’d like to see something like this integrated in Ontario, to assist students with coping with the up-front cost of education, perhaps in tandem with Ontario Online.”

Open access services and initiatives at Queen’s will be the focus of the final open access panel on Oct. 23. Jeff Moon, Data Librarian and Academic Director, Queen’s Research Data Centre, Rosarie Coughlan, Scholarly Publishing Librarian, Queen’s University Library, and Mark Syer, a PhD student in the School of Computing, will participate in that discussion.

Open Access Week at Queen’s concludes on Friday, Oct. 24 with a screening of the film The Internet’s Own Boy (Speaker's Corner, Stauffer Library, 1-3 pm), a documentary on programming prodigy and information activist Aaron Swartz.

Visit the Queen’s University Library website for more information about the events.