Canberra Skeptics explore Open Access

Open Access

Canberra Skeptics recently held a lecture, “Stop blaming open access: what’s wrong with scholarly communication” (June 12th, 2014), on open access and the challenges facing scholarly communication.

Open Access is an alternative publishing model that refers to “unrestricted online access to peer-reviewed scholarly research.” While specifics vary, especially between “green” and “gold” open access models, the emphasis is on making the research available without cost to the reader. This shifts the publication cost to the researcher or institution attempting to publish the paper, which has opened questions about publication pressures and maintaining an effective peer review process.

In the lecture, Dr. Danny Kingsley discusses some of the challenges facing open access publishing and scholarly communication overall.

Importance to Scientific Skepticism

Open Access is important to scientific skepticism because it is generally among our goals to become better consumers and evaluators of information. The accessibility (or lack thereof) of scholarly research directly impacts writers, researchers and curious readers in that aim.

The folks over at Canberra Skeptics are having a very timely conversation about scholarly publishing, and it’s one that we should all continue to follow. Check out their Twitter coverage of the lecture, and look to their web site and podcast, Record of Reason, for this and similar topical analysis.

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Research Libraries as Community Partners

Accessing and evaluating academic research sources can be filled with challenges, especially to those outside of academia or who have already graduated. Fortunately, university libraries remain an important partner in solving information access problems, even for alumni or those currently not affiliated.

Current Opportunity (June 23 – August 5, 2014)

Florida Tech is offering a free Massive Open Online Course, Mastering Academic Research: Information Skills for Successful Students

Florida Tech is offering a free Massive Open Online Course, Mastering Academic Research: Information Skills for Successful Students

Florida Tech is currently offering a free, non-credit, six week Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), to help participants develop skills to “find, evaluate and use information efficiently, effectively and ethically.” Registration is currently open and will remain so throughout the duration of the course. After its completion, participants will be able to access its content. The information literacy specialists at the John H. Evans Library have put together a brilliant set of resources, so I highly recommend taking advantage of it.

Visit the Florida Tech Evans Library Blog for more information and to register.

With this resource, Florida Tech joins a growing number of universities rising to the occasion to help meet and globally address information literacy and access challenges. See the list below.

University Libraries: Your Friend

Libraries at research institutions remain a large and often enthusiastic partner in solving information access problems. While not able to offer the same support to the public as to students and faculty, most institutional libraries offer an alumni program. For non-alumni, community patron memberships are typically available, which may provide on-site access to the library’s subscriptions and holdings. Finally, if neither of these options is available to you, check with your regional public library to see what institutional partnerships might be available to support your research.

If you encounter a reference or article that you cannot obtain through your local institutional or community library, check to see if the item is available through an Interlibrary Loan (ILL). To expand your search, try querying for the resource on the WorldCat web site. Ask a reference librarian for additional assistance with this search.

Research After Graduation: Resources & Information

As the global dialog continues concerning scholarly publishing, open access and the increased shift in favor of electronic distribution of academic research, many university research libraries are rising to the challenge, attempting to ensure their students are as well-prepared as possible to meet these challenges after graduation. Most of these resources are of equal benefit to non-students and the rest of the general public. The following is a growing list, and I hope to continue to add to it.