Open Access In The Future

(via flickr)
(via flickr)

What is the point of college?  A student is to not just gain knowledge in college but to deepen their knowledge. A student comes with a good amount of curiosity. College provides the opportunity to follow that curiosity. A college student can enter interested in one subject and become interested in another subject. Doors open in their mind. A constant flow of information feeds their curiosity. Students leave college armed with knowledge and experience, ready to blaze a trail and hopefully make the world a better place. With knowledge gained through college studies, a student could accomplish something that leaves their mark on mankind. There is no crystal ball to know which student at which college will blaze those trails.  We don’t even know which students have enough curiosity to increase their appetite.

So how do we match students with insatiable appetites for knowledge with the huge amount of information available? These are students who are doing research and the light goes off for them. There is a glint in their eye. They are students that already hang out in the library. They are surfing the databases like a fish in water. These students become scholars and they want more.

Libraries have changed to try to meet these hungry students’ needs.  Hence inter-library loan and intra-library loan, plus, the present upswing in electronic books. The loan programs are a way to have more information available to more students without libraries having to buy every single item.  After all, all libraries can’t buy and own everything. Their goal is to satisfy students’ quests for knowledge.

Libraries continue to change. In the area of scholarly library journals, the demand for availability has increased tenfold. The database concept with journals is amazing. Instead of one copy of each journal for one person to read, we have an electronic version available to multiple students at once.  You can search years’ worth of many journals from a search box.  Off-campus access enables students on a quest for more information even when they are not physically in the library.

We have students wanting more than “their” college offers.  Could their college actually get the articles? Yes. But the system now set up does require time for delivery. Sure, delivery time is less with electronic versions, but still requires time.  The curiosity of a student needs instant satisfaction because they are questing and need to keep going.

If these students want more knowledge, then why not?  What happened to free for educational purposes?  What if the “more” knowledge is given to a student that does go on to do something amazing for mankind? Don’t we want to benefit from that?

Open access gives us access to many scholarly journals without individuals or colleges paying for the journals. Instead, the licenses (usually Creative Commons) allow research to be distributed, shared and built upon all over the globe. Much research is funded with taxpayers’ money; open access scholarship allows the public to see what is being done with this money.

One way to access open access research is through an open access institutional repository. Touro Scholar is the Touro College & University System’s new repository,

Touro Scholar is a new repository for providing access to research produced by Touro faculty and community members

which offers full-text research from Touro faculty, staff and students free of charge to anyone. Another is to look under Databases on the library website for the orange O symbol, which indicates a journal is open access. Finally, the library has created a guide that provides a lot more information on OA if interested.

What is the most important point? Scholarly knowledge was meant to be shared, to encourage discovery and cause innovation. Limiting knowledge to scholars who want to advance knowledge is not in our best interest. Vice President Joe Biden recently spoke with cancer researchers regarding cancer cures.  Biden clearly sees sharing as critical component to making forward progress. At the American Association of Cancer Research’s annual meeting just last month Biden quoted Creative Commons CEO Ryan Merkley, who stated, “We have a moral imperative to cure this disease as fast as we can,” he said, “and open access will accelerate the pace of the work.”

Contributed by: Joan Wagner, Chief Librarian, Bay Shore

Read More:

How Much Money Did Jonas Salk Potentially Forfeit By Not Patenting The Polio Vaccines? (2012, August 9). Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2012/08/09/how-much-money-did-jonas-salk-potentially-forfeit-by-not-patenting-the-polio-vaccine/print/

Merkley, R. (2016, April 16). You Pay to Read Research You Fund. That’s Ludicrous. Wired. Retrieved May 20, 2016, from http://www.wired.com/2016/04/stealing-publicly-funded-research-isnt-stealing/

Tepe, L. (2016, April 22.). Is Open Access To Research Biden’s Answer To Curing Cancer? Forbes. Retrieved May 20, 2016, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/lindseytepe/2016/04/22/open-access-for-cancer-research/print/

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