Open Access to Knowledge

I recently signed the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities. The Declaration was initiated in 2003 by the Max Planck Society in Munich, Germany, to support the open dissemination of knowledge throughout the scholarly community.  Over 300 colleges and universities have signed the Declaration since then, and Wesleyan is one of a small but distinguished group of U.S. institutions to do so.

The impetus behind the open access movement comes from the opportunities afforded by the Internet for the dissemination of scholarly publications and from the severe challenge posed by the soaring prices for many academic journals. We want to encourage access to the latest research. At Wesleyan, we have used WesScholar as a vehicle for sharing the work of our faculty. Signing the Berlin Declaration is another step for encouraging increased access to advanced research.

Now that Wesleyan has declared its support for open access to scholarship, what do we do next?  One step that has been taken by the faculties of Harvard, MIT, Bucknell, Oberlin College and others is to pass a formal resolution to publish in open access journals, or journals that permit open access to articles via an institutional repository.  Because of the complex issues surrounding academic publishing as well as promotion and tenure practices, these resolutions were preceded by thorough on-campus discussions of the issues and how they might be addressed to the satisfaction of faculty members at all stages in their careers.  The week of Oct. 24-30 is Open Access Week, a perfect time to begin this conversation at Wesleyan.  Pat Tully, University Librarian, will post on her blog a series of entries about open access issues, which can be used as the basis for a series of campus discussions this year led by faculty, students and anyone interested in making scholarship more accessible.