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“The Right to Research” highlights Open Access benefits for students

For Immediate Release
January 28, 2008

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

Washington, DC – January 28, 2008 – SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) has released a new educational initiative to engage students on the topic of Open Access. “The Right to Research: The student guide to opening access to scholarship” repeats SPARC’s call for student voices to broaden the ongoing discussion of access to research.

The Right to Research is the anticipated product of a yearlong relationship SPARC has explored with college students. Beginning with the launch of a Day of Action for Open Access in February 2007 – conceived of and realized by Students for Free Culture – the partnership culminated with the hire of the first SPARC summer intern, Gavin Baker, and the genesis of The Right to Research campaign.

The Right to Research:

  • Helps students recognize the problem of access, saying they shouldn’t have to skip over research that could be important to their papers.
  • Introduces the principle of Open Access, making a clear distinction between the principle and the ways Open Access is being realized – through OA journals, repositories, copyright management, and policies.
  • Indicates how Open Access can make life as a student easier, advance research, widen access to those who need it, and increase visibility for student scholars.
  • Offers ways to support OA for both graduate students approaching publishing decisions and undergraduates who wish to adopt the OA cause.

“Today's students have come of age in the Internet era,” Baker said. “Access to knowledge is the norm for them, rather than the exception. Students recognize how the lack of access is detrimental to research and education, and how the subscription-only model can conflict with the ethic of the academy, which is to share knowledge with everyone. I hope this guide will engage students and help them become more active participants in the campus conversation.”

“It’s been such a pleasure to work with the students we’ve met over the past year,” said Heather Joseph, SPARC Executive Director. “Their zeal and commitment to all things open has been an inspiration for us – breathing new life into the vision for scholarly exchange in future. We’re glad to have the chance to highlight our new colleagues and their accomplishments to the academic community.”

The student campaign is launched on the heels of several SPARC-sponsored student initiatives, including the December SPARC Innovator profile on “Agents of Change: Student activists for Open Access;” the conclusion of the first annual SPARKY awards, a video contest to showcase student views on information sharing; and the highly successful SPARC-ACRL forum at ALA, which focused on “Working with the Facebook generation: Engaging student views on access to scholarship.”

The Right to Research is a comprehensive educational initiative available for use by libraries, student organizations and governments, and anyone else interested. Tools include The Right to Research brochure, which is available for free download or to buy in print, and The Right to Research Web site, which takes the discussion a level deeper and offers tools and guidance for students to share their work, use Open Access research, take action, and show their support. The campaign also points to Open Students, a new independent blog moderated by Gavin Baker.

Text for The Right to Research campaign was developed by Gavin Baker and refined with input from undergraduate and graduate students across the U.S. For more information, visit the SPARC Web site at



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’s advocacy, educational and publisher partnership programs encourage expanded dissemination of research. SPARC is on the Web at