The fourth Open Access Week Spotlight Blog has landed!

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!

International Open Access Week is a time for us to reflect on the principles and practices that underpin Open Access publishing, a concept that is transforming the academic world. This year's theme, "Community Over Commercialization," invites us to consider the importance of academic publishing as a collaborative endeavour driven by the needs and values of the global research community, rather than profit-making entities.

Open Access publishing has revolutionised the way knowledge is shared, making research and scholarship more accessible to a wider audience. By removing paywalls, Open Access promotes transparency, inclusivity, and knowledge dissemination. The Open Access movement places a strong emphasis on the principle that academic research should benefit not only scholars and institutions but also society at large.

While Open Access has come a long way, there are challenges associated with the commercialization of academic publishing. Traditional publishers often prioritize profit, leading to high subscription fees, restrictive copyright policies, and limited accessibility. This can hinder the ability of researchers and institutions to access and disseminate knowledge. The "Community Over Commercialization" theme reminds us of the need to re-evaluate these practices.

Community-Driven Initiatives

A central aspect of Open Access is the shift towards community-driven initiatives. Many academics, librarians, and institutions have come together to create platforms and journals that prioritize the interests of the research community. These initiatives foster collaboration and inclusivity, ensuring that research reaches those who need it.

Examples of community-driven initiatives include:

  • Open Access Journals: Academics and researchers are actively involved in the creation and management of Open Access journals, ensuring that the publishing process aligns with academic values and priorities.
  • Institutional Repositories: Universities and research institutions are creating digital repositories to host and provide Open Access to their scholars' work.
  • Preprint Servers: Platforms like arXiv and bioRxiv allow researchers to share their work with the global community before formal peer review, promoting rapid dissemination of knowledge.
  • Scholarly Societies: Many scholarly societies have embraced Open Access to support their missions of advancing knowledge within their fields.
  • Global Collaborations: International partnerships between researchers and institutions facilitate Open Access initiatives that transcend borders.

Embracing "Community Over Commercialization" offers these advantages:

  • Ensures that research is available to all, including scholars in resource-constrained regions like the low- and middle-income countries.
  • Research that is freely accessible is more likely to be cited and have a greater societal impact.
  • Academic institutions can reduce subscription costs, directing resources towards research and education.
  • Community-driven initiatives foster collaboration and knowledge-sharing, which can lead to breakthroughs in research.

Open Access Week 2023 calls upon the academic community to prioritize "Community Over Commercialization." This serves as a reminder of the need for free access and community building in academic publishing, and that our commitment to knowledge dissemination should outweigh profit motives. By supporting Open Access and community-driven initiatives, we can collectively build a more inclusive, transparent, and impactful academic publishing landscape. Let us work together and advocate for a more open, inclusive, and collaborative scholarly community, and make the research we produce and consume a force for positive change, benefiting not only our academic community but the entire society.

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