Theme of 2017 International Open Access Week to be “Open in order to…”

In conjunction with this year’s Open Access Week Advisory Committee, SPARC today announces the theme for this year’s 10th International Open Access Week, to be held October 23-29, will be “Open in order to…”.

This year’s theme is an invitation to answer the question of what concrete benefits can be realized by making scholarly outputs openly available. “Open in order to…” serves as a prompt to move beyond talking about openness in itself and focus on what openness enables—in an individual discipline, at a particular institution, or in a specific context; then to take action to realize these benefits.

Open in order to increase the impact of my scholarship. Open in order to enable more equitable participation in research. Open in order to improve public health. These are just a few examples of how this question can be answered.

Established by SPARC and partners in the student community in 2008, International Open Access Week is an opportunity to take action in making openness the default for research—to raise the visibility of scholarship, accelerate research, and turn breakthroughs into better lives. This year’s Open Access Week will be held from October 23rd through the 29th; however, those celebrating the week are encouraged to schedule local events whenever is most suitable during the year and to utilize themes that are most effective locally.

This year’s theme of “Open in order to…” also recognizes the diverse contexts and communities within which the shift to Open Access is occurring and encourages specific discussion that will be most effective locally. We invite the community to help us translate this prompt into new languages at

“Effectively communicating the tangible benefits that Open Access provides is essential for open to become the default in both policy and practice,” said Heather Joseph, Executive Director of SPARC. “This year’s theme will help focus discussions during Open Access Week on those benefits of openness that are most compelling locally—whether that’s increasing citation counts, enabling anyone to learn from the latest scholarship, or accelerating the translation of research into economic gains—and encourage action to realize these benefits.

Last year’s “Open in action” theme encouraged all stakeholders to take concrete steps to make their own work more openly available and encourage others to do the same—from posting pre-prints in a repository to pledging to educate colleagues about Open Access. The 2017 theme will help build on that emphasis on action by identifying the end goals Open Access can enable and encouraging individuals and institutions to take steps to achieve those goals.

International Open Access Week is a global, community-driven week of action to open up access to research. The event is celebrated by individuals, institutions and organizations across the world. The official hashtag of Open Access Week is #OAweek. We also invite the community to use the hashtag #OpenInOrderTo to start an online conversation about the benefits of an open system of communicating scholarship.

For more information about International Open Access Week, please visit



SPARC®, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, is a global coalition committed to making Open the default for research and education. SPARC empowers people to solve big problems and make new discoveries though the adoption of policies and practices that advance Open Access, Open Data, and Open Education. Learn more at

From Nairobi to the World: Open Access Week 2016

Training-the-Trainers of Open Access

The Open Access landscape is changing. As advocates, we ought to be up-to-date with these changes. This is about the Train-the-Trainer platform adopted for Nairobi’s Open Access Week 2016. Inspired by this year’s Open Access Week theme, Open in Action, I thought of a platform where researchers, librarians, students and others who have committed to working in Open could share their experiences on how that decision has benefited them.

Photo courtesy of OpenCon 2016 Nairobi



Why Train-the-Trainers?

This is my first year in Open Research and Open Education advocacy. Initially, I thought that realizing Open Access, Open Data and Open Education was a matter of simply pushing a button (i.e. a ‘one fix’ solution), only to find out how vast and technical it is. During my first year of advocacy, I encountered issues that plague work done by Open Access advocates in Kenya, which I believe are also being felt in different corners of the world. These issues include: few mentors, a lack of understanding of cultures and how cultures affect Open Access work, sustainability of Open Access initiatives, and inadequate infrastructure to foster advocacy work.

As an advocate who aspires for a community which understands the role Open plays in day-to-day economic and social developments, I am looking forward to a platform where people can be inspired as they join the Open Access community, and empowered as they continue advocating for Open. In order to bridge differences in the Open Access community, I believe we need to build the capacity of advocates, encourage collaborations, and work as a team while streamlining cultures during the development and implementation of Open Access initiatives. When every advocate’s voice is heard and embraced, solidarity amongst advocates will be attainable. 

With more empowered advocates, it will be possible to roll out various OA initiatives in our higher learning institutions, research institutes and community. Anyone who has been advocating for openness in research will agree with me that you acquire new knowledge and skills as you undergo more training (and especially so while sharing with peers!).

Finally, Open Access means different things to individuals from different disciplines and with the cross cutting nature of development issues, we should work openly, hand-in-hand.


Train-the-Trainers (TTT)

The goal of this year’s Open Access Week was for individuals and institutions in different parts of the world to come up with initiatives that went beyond what Open Access is, to how to practice Open Access: the focus was on taking steps to opening up research and scholarships and encouraging others to do the same. Our Train the Trainers program aligned with this theme.   Through partnership with OpenCon and Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) as well as speakers from Electronic Information For Libraries (EIFL) and International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE), more than twenty advocates from different institutions were trained during Open Access Week Nairobi.

Train-the-Trainer was a platform that brought together postgraduate students and early career researchers who have been advocating for Open Access and Open Science with the aim of training Open Access ambassadors. The purpose of the training was to provide a good platform to roll out OA training to a large number of students and ECRs in higher learning institutions as well as research institutes. We wanted to strengthen the capacity of Open Access advocates, strengthen institutional capacity in promoting Open Access, and provide instruction on how to incorporate Open practices into research workflows.

The event covered talks by experts, talk by peers, and practical tips on how to incorporate open access in day-to-day research workflows in various research disciplines.


What Next?

Open Access has been embraced in Kenya, but only to a small extent. Still, the commitment, financial and moral support from the government, government institutions, academic and research organizations are of great importance. Here are advocates who are all out to reach the new frontiers, break and harmonize the barriers. The ambassadors will tackle issues which affect the future of Open Access, Open Data and Open Education both regionally and globally while receiving mentorship.

With the training, ambassadors are expected to become the voice of Open and will be responsible for advocacy of Open Access and related topics within their own institutions. They will be required to host workshops or lectures annually on Open Access and Open Data principles tailored by the needs of their institutions. However, for ambassadors to achieve this, they will need further training. I am working with the Information Training and Outreach Centre for Africa (ITOCA) to develop a proposal to secure funds so that the ambassadors can receive further training. We are looking for individuals who are willing to come on board and mentor these ambassadors as well. We want to create a network of advocates that ensures students, faculty, staff, librarians, and community members can speak and practice Open.

While organizing our Open Access week event, I shared the idea with individuals from various institutions; EIFL, ITOCA, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI),ICIPE and RCMRD. I look forward to engaging with these groups during the initiative’s implementation, and to more individuals and institutions joining us on our journey.

I call us a country running even before crawling when it comes to openness in research. Kenya is a country where few people understand the role Open Research plays in science, technology and innovation, let alone research itself. Yet, there are OA policies in place. I’m ready to turn things around—are you?



Organizing an Open Access event for a second time was fun yet tiring at the same time. A second enjoyable time despite few challenges here and there. Appreciation and love goes to OpenCon, RCMRD and Iryna Kuchma (Open Access Program Manager, EIFL) for the support. The journey continues!

Lilian Juma is a spatial planner, environmentalist, and researcher who have recently developed passion in landscape planning and design. She works on participation as a tool for engagement, advocacy, skill building and social innovation.



FlourishOA a new Open Access service to support your scholarly publication needs

As Open Access advocates, we are excited to launch FlourishOA, a new online service that helps put “open” into action.

The rapid growth of Open Access (OA) publishing presents novel opportunities and challenges for researchers and publishers alike. There is a growing demand for quantitative tools to assist users in assessing the reputation, cost-effectiveness, and overall publication quality of OA journals. FlourishOA provides a data-driven web app that enables authors to discover relevant and reputable OA venues and thus maximize the impact of their scholarly work. As of today, the FlourishOA database contains information on nearly 6,000 journals, and is growing daily.

By aggregating information on article publication charges (APCs) and quantitative measures of journal impact, we empower researchers to identify credible OA journals that best fit their publication needs. Our goal is to provide members of the OA community with the tools they need to separate legitimate OA publications from unethical and predatory publishers. Our interactive data visualization demonstrates our algorithms in action, and provides valuable insight for researchers and funding bodies seeking to evaluate the merits of alternative OA venues.

In addition to helping scholarly authors find appropriate OA venues, FlourishOA will provide researchers in the area of scholarly communication with an unprecedented depth of data on Open Access journal pricing and impact. Our entire database is freely accessible through an easy-to-use API. By providing ready access to detailed economic and impact data, we aim to foster quantitative approaches to OA journal evaluation, and help solve the problem of information asymmetry in the burgeoning OA marketplace. Additionally, we hope that by creating a new level of transparency regarding the prices and impact of OA journals, FlourishOA will encourage price competition among OA publishers, further lowering the costs that authors face to make their work openly available to the world.

Check out our website and spread the word! If you have questions, please feel free to contact us at:

FlourishOA is funded by a generous grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The members of the FlourishOA team are Jevin West, Carl Bergstrom, Dale Coleman, Ashley Farley, Bree Norlander, and Patrick Spieker.


AgriXiv – Preprints for Agriculture

The agriculture in the world under the changing climate scenario is facing many challenges and needs utmost attention and support for the development of adaptive, resilient and sustainable livelihoods. Research outputs generated in addressing these challenges faced by agriculture need to be immediately available to all the stakeholders for understanding and developing suitable solutions. Therefore, the Open Access India  is proposing AgriXiv, a preprints repository for agriculture with the support of Open Science Framework to facilitate the sharing of interim research results.

The Emperor Has No Clothes: Predatory Publishers’ Days Are Numbered


With the exponential growth of the Open Access movement over the past decade, it is undeniable that major steps are underway toward broadening both the reach and availability of scientific research. But not every development has been a step in the right direction, and for some, Open Access has become synonymous with negative connotations. The most notable unfortunate byproduct of the boom in numbers and access to scientific journals has been the dramatic rise in predatory publishing.

Predatory Publishers can be defined as any publisher that operates on an exploitative business model, which can involve, among other things, charging fees to authors and other contributors without providing adequate peer review, misrepresenting personnel affiliated with the company, misrepresenting the company’s location, contacts , addresses, not providing archiving, plagiarism-checking, and not providing professional grade editorial and publishing services on manuscripts.

 The combination of the Open Access journal model along with an increased pressure for academics to prove their work by publishing more and being cited has created a prosperous environment for unethical practices looking to take advantage. By falsifying journal information, faking editorial board members, and hiding behind a general lack of transparency, predatory publishers have been able to prey upon the desperation of academics looking to act fast and get their names out there.  

With so many new journals flooding the field, it can be very difficult to tell the quality publishers from the fake.

In some instances, it is the authors themselves who are taking advantage of the system for their own benefit. With such a glut of new material, plagiarism of others’ easily accessible work has skyrocketed, and self-plagiarism, where an author uses one of the author’s own previously published articles as a template for “new” work with only minor changes is increasing.

As part of a mounting backlash against such practices, a growing movement on social media platforms works to highlight and inform the public on the actions and methods of predatory publishers. The twitter hash-tag #predatorypublishing has been effective in spreading the message through current events and academic articles relating to deceitful open access trends. Facebook is also becoming an instrumental battleground in addressing predatory publishing culture, with a dedicated watchdog group with more than 500 members that works to spread awareness of the problem and practices to academics from countries and backgrounds that might otherwise not know of such dangers.

The open platform of social media and blogs is helping academics to identify and root out the culprits. One of the most prominent leaders of this effort is Jeffrey Beall, a librarian and professor at the University of Colorado, Denver. His vigilant commentary on the scientific publishing field help many to stay abreast of the changes and developments at work, but perhaps his most important contribution has been in creating and maintaining a list of known predatory publishers for all to reference. Beall has established 52 criteria for determining if a publisher qualifies as predatory. These conditions range from distributing spam emails to falsifying details of journals’ editorial personnel. 

The open access movement in academic publishing is in a state of flux. The boom in growth, awareness, and access is founded in the needed press for all researchers to have a voice and platform through which to be heard and to learn. In time, a push for standards will establish an ethical and balanced playing field, and as more of these predatory publishers are identified every year, the honest and high-quality open access journals and publishers will become even more vital.  

PLOS is Open in Action

Join PLOS in celebrating Open Access Week by being Open in Action!

  • Register for an ORCiD ID – distinguish yourself and create a record of your scholarly contributions.
  • Join the conversation –  on PLOS Science Wednesday – the Ask Me Anything (AMA) series on redditscience.
  • Get a sneak peak of PLOS’ upcoming projects with PLOS Publisher Louise Page in this OpenCon 2016 Community Webcast.
  • Listen to a special episode of PLOScast – a podcast focused on science, academia and the future of scholarship – featuring UCSF’s James Fraser discussing the use of preprints in the life sciences.
  • Meet PLOS staff and editors at SVP or iGEM – stop by the booth, learn more about Open Access publishing and pick up a giveaway.
  • Browse the Open Highlights Collection, with research from across PLOS journals and the wider Open Access literature curated by staff editors to provide depth of coverage on select topics.

Have a great Open Access Week!

Take Action with the new Open Access Button

What better way to take action during Open Access Week than by starting a request for an article or dataset you need? The Open Access Button is here to help!

The Open Access Button has released a new Button for Open Access Week – a simpler, more effective way to get find and request research with the press of a button.

Find and request articles and data
The Open Data Button has now been combined with the Open Access Button. Now you can find and request both articles and data in one great service instead of making separate searches and requests.

Find and request research in your browser
Don’t want to install the plugin? No problem! You can now use the Button in your browser. You simply submit a URL on the Browser Button page – the Button will search for an available copy of the article or data. If we are unable to get you immediate access, you can submit a request.

Give it a Try
You can install the new Chrome plugin or bookmarklet to any browser now or try out the Browser Button. A Firefox plugin will be released soon next week.

Give the Button a test run! Go to the Browser Button page and paste the URL of the article you need access to in the URL field. If you are looking for data, use the the URL of the corresponding article. If you don’t have an article you need right now, a great sample article to test the Button is Historical Overfishing and the Recent Collapse of Coastal Ecosystems. Submit this URL on Browser Button page to test out the new Button.

We’re excited about all these improvements, but we’d love to know what you think! Let us know what you think on Twitter or send us an email at


Introducing oaDOI: resolve a DOI straight to OA

Most papers that are free-to-read are available thanks to “green OA” copies posted in institutional or subject repositories.  The fact these copies are available for free is fantastic because anyone can read the research, but it does present a major challenge: given the DOI of a paper, how can we find the open version, given there are so many different repositories?

The obvious answer is “Google Scholar” 🙂  And yup, that works great, and given the resources of Google will probably always be the most comprehensive solution.  But Google’s interface requires an extra search step, and its data isn’t open for others to build tools on top of.

We made a thing to fix that.  Introducing oaDOI:

We look for open copies of articles using the following data sources:

  • The Directory of Open Access Journals to see if it’s in their index of OA journals.
  • CrossRef’s license metadata field, to see if the publisher has reported an open license.
  • Our own custom list DOI prefixes, to see if it’s in a known preprint repository.
  • DataCite, to see if it’s an open dataset.
  • The wonderful BASE OA search engine to see if there’s a Green OA copy of the article. BASE indexes 90mil+ open documents in 4000+ repositories by harvesting OAI-PMH metadata.
  • Repository pages directly, in cases where BASE was unable to determine openness.
  • Journal article pages directly, to see if there’s a free PDF link (this is great for detecting hybrid OA)

oaDOI was inspired by the really cool DOAI.  oaDOI is a wrapper around the OA detection used by Impactstory. It’s open source of course, can be used as a lookup engine in Zotero, and has an easy and powerful API that returns license data and other good stuff.

Try it out at, let us know what you think (@oadoi_org), and help us spread the word!

How do you stay on top of the latest research and developments in your field? We want to know!

At the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), we are running a short survey asking people about: 

1. How do you access and consume research or information to help you with your work or studies?

2. Have you ever read our flagship publication, the IDS Bulletin? We want to know what you think!

3. What are your attitudes (and prejudices?) towards Open Access academic publishing?

Please take part in our survey.

We will share the results here.