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Open Science: How to Unlock Equitable Access to Research

Tue, March 27, 1:15 to 2:45pm, Hilton Reforma, Floor: 2nd Floor, Don Américo

Group Submission Type: Panel Session


The public good is served best by the widest and most accessible dissemination of scholarly work and educational material. Open Science is based on the principles of inclusion, fairness and sharing for the benefits of the public good, but also transparency for increased efficiency and scientific rigour. It encompasses a number of practices from collaborative platforms for research creation over open access to academic articles, educational resources and data as well as open forms of peer reviews and research evaluation. This panel focuses on open access (OA) and the problems currently dominating a largely commercially driven scholarly publishing landscape, which Jhangiani (2017) expressed as “certainly broken” (p.267).
Open Access is about removing barriers to accessing, sharing and re-using research findings within, between and beyond research institutions and across the globe. The idea of opening science and its underlying values of increased knowledge exchange date back to the 17th century (Machado, 2015), with a foreshadowing of this back to the very origins of scholarship. The digital revolution has further increased the opportunities for exchanging academic knowledge and making it available for a wider audience. Here, Adcock & Fottrell (2008), particularly stress the potential of OA to overcome the North-South research divide and to strengthen equitable access to scholarly communication.
However, many challenges remain for making OA a reality. Large, commercial publishers have been successful in promoting the brand of their journals as a hallmark of quality, and researchers feel obliged to publish with them, locked into a ‘prestige-based’ economy around journals. At the same time these publishers create barriers that hinder open academic practices. Currently, five publishing houses monopolise more than 50 % of the scholarly publishing market, largely now considered to be utterly dysfunctional, and operate on high profit margins (Larivière, Haustein & Mongeon, 2015), based on locking research behind paywalls, asking researchers to sign off their copyright and profiting from scholarly output that was largely paid by tax payers’ money (Jhangiani, 2017, p.267). Here it is also interesting to note that big publishers such as Elsevier “have been redirecting their business strategies towards the acquisition of scholarly infrastructure, the tools and services that underpin the scholarly research life cycle, many of which are geared towards data analytics.” (Posada & Chen, 2017).
In addition, we can observe that the term open and open access as well as technological advancements are increasingly (ab)used by private actors to promote their services (known as ‘open-washing’). As such, it is essential to bring these debates to researchers, higher education institutions, research conferences and governments in order to highlight the current problematic situation in scholarly publishing. This panel does exactly this and brings together researchers and education union activists from different disciplines and regions (North America, Europe, Latin America) to discuss what is at stake for the academic community, share best OA practices and learn more about how we can engage across borders to promote quality scholarly communication and increased access to research for all.


Adcock J, Fottrell E: The North-South information highway: case studies of publication access among health researchers in resource-poor countries. Glob Health Action. 2008; 1.
Jhangiani, R S. 2017. Open as Default: Te Future of Education and Scholarship. In: Jhangiani, R S and Biswas-Diener, R. (eds.) Open: Te Philosophy and Practices that are Revolutionizing Education and Science. Pp. 267–279. London: Ubiquity Press. DOI: License: CC-BY 4.0.
Machado, J. (2015) Open data and open science. In Albagli, Maciel & Abdo. Open Science, Open Questions.
Posada, A. & Chen, G. (2017) Preliminary Findings: Rent Seeking by Elsevier: Publishers are increasingly in control of scholarly infrastructure and why we should care. Retrieved from:
Vincent Larivière, Stefanie Haustein, Philippe Mongeon. The oligopoly of academic publishers in the digital era. PLOS ONE, June 2015 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0127502

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