Our third Open Access Week Spotlight Blog is here!

Our OA Ambassadors raise awareness in their local communities about global OA movements as well as related opportunities through IWA Publishing. They are representatives of both the International Water Association and IWA Publishing and our joint goals to empower the next generation of water leaders and to shape the future of the water sector. These blog posts highlight their specialty and research focus, as well as emphasising the importance of Open Access publishing. 

Kator Jethro Ifyalem is a civil engineer and MSc student from Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, committed to environmental sustainability. Connect with Kator on LinkedIn!

Open Access publishing has brought about a tremendous transformation in the academic world, resulting in the unrestricted availability of research outputs to all. This revolutionary journey has been marked by several significant advancements and milestones that have contributed to its growth and success.

Early Days and Evolution

The concept of Open Access (OA) began as a response to the traditional, subscription-based model of scholarly publishing, which often restricted access to knowledge. The emergence of digital technologies and the internet gave a significant boost to the Open Access movement, enabling wider dissemination and consumption of scholarly content. The early 2000s saw the development of various forms of Open Access publishing, including Gold, Green, and Hybrid models.

Gold Open Access describes publications that are accessible online through the publisher's or journal's website.

Green Open Access refers to the self-archiving of articles in repositories, either institutional or subject-based, where they can be accessed for free.

The Hybrid type allows authors to make their articles Open Access in subscription-based journals for a fee.

Over time, more variations have emerged, including Diamond and Platinum. Diamond Open Access journals offer scholarly publishing free of fees and access charges, often subsidised by institutions such as universities, research centres, or government agencies. Platinum Open Access journals are published directly by research or funding institutions themselves.

Licensing and Copyright in Open Access

In Open Access publishing, authors usually publish articles with Creative Commons (CC) licences. The CC Attribution License (CCAL) allows users to share, adapt, or use the work as long as they attribute it in the manner specified by the author or licensor. Thus, Open Access does not imply that there is no copyright attached to the open document; rather, it provides more freedom for the dissemination and use of the work.

Plan S and the Future of Open Access

A significant recent development in Open Access publishing is Plan S, launched in 2018 by Coalition S, a consortium of national research funding organizations, Plan S aims to make full and immediate Open Access a reality. Academic works produced as a consequence of research supported by public grants shall be published in Open Access journals, on Open Access platforms, or made promptly and without delay accessible through Open Access repositories.

International Water Association’s (IWA) Commitment to Open Access Publishing

International Water Association (IWA) Publishing has played an instrumental role in the Open Access publishing landscape, particularly in the field of water and environmental sciences.

IWA Publishing’s library contains approximately 850 books and 14 peer-reviewed journals, which qualifies IWA Publishing as a top international publisher of books on water, wastewater, and the environment. The goal is to raise awareness of the importance of water and to improve worldwide health and wellbeing.

In January 2021, IWA Publishing made a groundbreaking move by transitioning its entire journal portfolio to Open Access, with ten journals adopting a Subscribe to Open (S2O) model. S2O is a collaborative Open Access model that relies on subscriptions to make content Open Access without the need for author fees. The model converts subscriber-only access to IWA Publishing journals to Open Access using existing library relationships and subscription purchases.

The shift to Open Access is in line with IWA Publishing's values and strategy, and they hope it will change the way their content is used by enabling everyone engaged in providing clean drinking water and good sanitation around the world to read the latest research. Moreover, IWA Publishing is also committed to increasing the accessibility of important water-related research worldwide. They offer to publish books and individual chapters as Open Access in exchange for a ‘book processing charge’.

IWA Publishing's Open Access Ambassadors Programme is a significant initiative aimed at spreading awareness and promoting the benefits of Open Access in the water sector. It provides a platform for early career researchers to advocate for Open Access, and it offers them an opportunity to contribute to the future of water sector research and to advance their professional careers.

The journey of Open Access publishing has been transformative, democratising access to knowledge, accelerating discovery, and increasing the return on research and education. As it continues to evolve, it will undoubtedly continue to shape the future of scholarly communication, driving greater transparency, inclusivity, and collaboration in research.

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