International Open Access Week is a global event entering its twelfth edition. It began in 2007 as Open Access Day, the event was originally a partnership between the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) and student communities who organized local events on their campuses. Since then, International Open Access Week has grown exponentially and is now celebrated at hundreds of events around the world. It is the opportunity to advocate for Open Access and inspire wider participation in helping to make Open Access a new norm in scholarship and research.
This year’s Open Access Week was held from October 21st until October 27th 2019 under the theme “Open for whom?” Equity in Open Knowledge. IFMSA held a week-long campaign on social media to raise awareness about Open Access and to inspire members to become Open Access advocates themselves. Each day had different types of contents, where we shared infographics and engaged with members through our social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. On the first day, we introduced Open Access, defining it as free availability of literature on the public internet permitting any user to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. We also had an online discussion around the theme, “Open for whom?”. Many of our members felt there needs to be more inclusion of students, young researchers from low and middle-income countries, patients and marginalised groups. Over the next days, we discussed the history of the Open Access movement, facts and good practices in Open Access and held an interactive quiz (here) on Open Access with our members! An open webinar on Open Access hosting Nick Shockey from the SPARC Steering Committee and Dr. Karin Purshouse, a physician at Oxford and an OA advocate as guest speakers was held, discussing how medical students could assume their role as OA advocates. You can find the webinar here. On our last days, we shared different experiences of our national member organisations and members on Open Access, and ended Open Access Week 2019 with a video here of medical students worldwide supporting Open Access. All infographics used in the campaign can be found here!
As outlined in our policy document here, IFMSA firmly believes in the importance of openness across all published research outputs (including among others, all online research output, peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed academic journal articles, conference papers, theses, book chapters, monographs) – immediate online availability free of restrictions on both access and use (e.g. certain copyright or licence restrictions). As medical students, you have an important role to play as OA advocates – advocate for an Open Access policy in your university, encourage the development of online repositories, start your own local campaign coinciding with OA week or commit on an individual level to publish in open access journals!
Bottom line, Open Access is about equality, for healthcare professionals, for patients, for students, for you, for everyone!