OA is foundational to advancing DEI / DEI is foundational to advancing OA
The 2021 Open Access Week theme of It Matters How We Open Knowledge: Building Structural Equity, was developed by the OA Week Advisory Committee to echo a core value of the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science, that all producers and consumers of knowledge should have equal access to scientific inputs and outputs.
Here at the University of Texas Libraries, we have long worked towards expanding access to the information resources we hold – from opening up browsing access to the book shelves in the Tower at the beginning of the last century, to opening up access to an online collection of UT’s dissertations and theses in Texas ScholarWorks at the beginning of this century. We are not alone. More than ever before higher education and research entities, including university presses, academic societies and publishers, want to expand equal access to knowledge.
If one Googles “Open Access” there are over 200 million results. One of the first results is from SPARC, who defines Open Access (OA) as the free, immediate, online availability of research. With our society’s renewed commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusiveness (DEI), the transition to making research OA without barriers is imperative. SPARC has collected impact stories to illustrate why this transition is crucial. In short, OA is foundational to advancing DEI.
The UT Libraries (UTL) is committed to advancing the transition of making research OA without barriers. UTL has an OA platform for research authored at UT (Texas ScholarWorks), and an OA platform for research authored outside of UT (Digital Collections). However, much of the online research licensed by UTL (journal articles and ebooks) is not OA and cannot be put on either of these platforms, nor the myriad other OA platforms across the globe. So UTL is working to transition each license we sign towards an OA future.
How does one transition a license for research to OA over time? One inserts DEI principles into the negotiation.
For several years, the campus has engaged with OA issues such as: OA publishing, open educational resources, open data, and licensing & negotiation. Start anticipating a blog post in the future about the Sustainable Open Scholarship Working Group. For now, here is a teaser on the work of the Licensing & Negotiation Subcommittee made up of UT faculty and staff. The group rolled up their sleeves and articulated licensing principles that champion DEI principles, for example:
- Diversity – The value and importance of a diversity of published voices to be OA. Incorporate into a license the ability for all research to be immediately available for OA on an online platform.
- Equity – The value and importance for all readers to have access to OA research. Incorporate into a license that research will be accessible to readers of all abilities consistent with current legislation and regulations.
- Inclusion – The value and importance for all authors to be able to designate their research to be OA. Incorporate into a license the ability for unlimited articles to be designated OA without requiring authors or institutions to pay additional fees.
Therefore, not only is OA foundational to advancing DEI, DEI is also foundational to advancing OA.
With the help of Cambridge University Press (CUP), the University of Texas was able to make these principles a reality. The UT license to the CUP journals includes all the above points. UT authored articles can be immediately made OA on the CUP online platform. The CUP platform does not prevent screen readers from helping readers that use these tools. Unlimited UT articles can become OA without additional fees paid to CUP by UT authors. One license at a time, the UT Libraries is building structural equity to advance DEI and OA.
Want more information about UT and OA? Consult UTL’s OA Guide, contact your Subject Librarian, read the report by the Task Force on the Future of UT Libraries, follow the Sustainable Open Scholarship Working Group, watch the introduction to the Faculty Guide to Use of Open Educational Resources (OER), and last but not least, peruse previous TexLibris posts about Open Access.