Knowledge for all: A decade of open access at uOttawa

Posted on Friday, December 6, 2019

Group of students working on a laptop in a common area.

For most of us, accessing information online is something we take for granted. But for academics undertaking research, it used to be a different story — until the beginning of the open access (OA) movement.

This month marks the 10th anniversary of uOttawa’s OA program—the first of its kind in Canada. By helping to make research freely available online, the University has positioned itself as a global leader in the transformation of scholarly communication.

Today, a growing number of academics are choosing this path for publishing their work and more universities around the world are adopting institutional policies in favour of it.

“The extent to which scholarly articles are published in OA has continually increased over the last years. It is estimated that 45% of articles published in 2015 were in OA,” says Stefanie Haustein, an assistant professor at the School of Information Studies whose research focuses on scholarly communication and open science.

Removing barriers to research published in scholarly journals has many advantages, both for the research community and society in general. Faster dissemination and discovery of knowledge, increased visibility of communications and greater impact serve to continually deepen knowledge and generate significant benefits.

“Globally, researchers, research institutions and funders are making choices to embrace open access as a means to increase broad access to advanced knowledge,” says Talia Chung, University librarian and vice-provost (knowledge systems).

It goes without saying that articles published in open access are also generally cited more often.

Supporting open access initiatives

To raise awareness and reaffirm its commitment to OA, the Library has implemented various initiatives that facilitate making research contributions openly available. It also adopted its own open access policy, and in 2016, established the Open Scholarship Award, to recognize outstanding faculty members and instructors practising open scholarship.

Financial support for OA publishing is also available for researchers through agreements with publishers, a partial reimbursement program for article processing charges, and investments in infrastructure that promotes open access and partnerships within the University.

In addition to all of this, starting this year, the library will invest 2.5% of its collections budget to support open scholarship activities over the next five years, with the goal of building a sustainable publishing ecosystem.

Open Access at uOttawa by the numbers

  • Nearly 28,000 documents in the uO Research institutional repository
  • Over 15 open access journals hosted on an open source platform
  • Nearly 1,000 articles published, thanks to a financial support program
  • Over 80 titles published under the University of Ottawa Press Open Access Collection
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