National student organizations call for Open Access to research

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Media advisory
June 10, 2009

For more information, contact:
Jennifer McLennan, SPARC
(202) 296-2296 ext. 121
jennifer [at] arl [dot] org

National student organizations call for Open Access to research

Washington, DC – A coalition of national and regional college student associations today issued a “Student Statement on the Right to Research,” calling on universities, research funders, and researchers to take action in support of Open Access to research. The American Medical Student Association, the Student PIRGs, Students for Free Culture, and Universities Allied for Essential Medicines, as well as the Trinity University Association of Student Representatives and the California Institute of Technology Graduate Student Council have signed the statement.

Students rely on access to academic journal literature for their research and education. However, even before the recent economic crisis many colleges have struggled with the high costs of journal subscriptions, restricting access for students and scientists alike. The statement reads, in part:

Learning and inquiry are impeded when scholars lack access to fellow researchers' work, and when students lack access to the work of scholars before them.

At the same time, digital technologies have opened new opportunities for research. New tools facilitate faster discoveries, speed the development of new technologies, and accelerate the progress of science. Patients could have access to the latest medical research, citizens could evaluate scientific information on environmental impacts, and developing countries could apply the most recent scholarship to public health and development efforts. But access barriers leave these opportunities under-explored.

Open Access is an alternative to the traditional closed, subscription-access system of scholarly communication. Open Access makes the results of scholarly research available online for free, immediately upon publication, and removes barriers for scholarly and educational re-use. Entire journals can be open-access, or an author can provide Open Access to an individual article by posting a copy on an openly accessible Web site.  All forms of open-access publication depend on rigorous methods of quality control, including peer review.

The full text of the statement is online at http://www.righttoresearch.org.

“As both taxpayers and students, we deserve access to the research that our tuition and tax dollars have financed,” said Nick Shockey, recent graduate and Student Senator at Trinity University in San Antonio. “Our education should not be limited by the number of journal subscriptions our library can afford – a number that is drastically shrinking with recession-induced budget cuts at universities across the country.”

Laura Janneck of the American Medical Student Association added, “As medical students, we need full access to the best and latest research to have the most accurate and up-to-date education. As future doctors, we know patients deserve access to the same research. Open Access ensures that students, scientists, and the public can all access the best information, to improve health, education, and scholarship.”

“The student voice is growing louder, more clear, and more compelling in the discussion on access to research,” said Heather Joseph, Executive Director of SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition). “Financial pressures are driving libraries, universities and colleges, as well as students to more closely examine the return on their investment in resources. Our young colleagues, whose education relies on access to quality scholarship, are absolutely right to make research access a focal cause.” SPARC helped to coordinate discussions that led to the launch of this statement and sponsors the statement Web site.

The “Student Statement on the Right to Research” closes with a call to action – urging universities, governments and other research funders, researchers, and additional student organizations to support Open Access – and a commitment to back Open Access in their activities.

Student organizations are invited to sign the statement at http://www.righttoresearch.org.

Press contacts:

Nick Shockey
nshockey [at] trinity [dot] edu
(615) 400-1449

Trinity University (BA, 2009)
Senator, Trinity University Association of Student Representatives, 2007-8

Gavin Baker
gavin [at] arl [dot] org

(407) 929-5657

Outreach Fellow, SPARC
University of Florida (BA, 2007)

Laura Janneck
lmj17 [at] case [dot] edu
(401) 965-4506

Harvard School of Public Health, MPH candidate
Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, MD candidate
American Medical Student Association, AIDS Advocacy Network Steering
Committee Member

SPARC
SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), with SPARC Europe and SPARC Japan, is an international alliance of more than 800 academic and research libraries working to create a more open system of scholarly communication. SPARC has worked collaboratively with students to introduce the Right to Research campaign, the Open Students Blog, and the international Open Access Week (Oct. 19 – 23, 2009)