This post is in connection with David Wiley’s “Intro to Openness in Education” MOOC.
In week 6 of our course, we have been looking at the issue of Open Access, Open Data, and Open Science. These three topics primarily deal with the way in which research is shared between academic and government institutions. The one that I am most familiar with is open access. While a graduate student in the Communications department at Brigham Young University, I often ran across articles that I needed to use in my research. These articles were often guarded by journal paywalls. Fortunately, the library at BYU was well equipped with journal subscriptions and databases, but every now and then I would find an article that I wanted which could not be obtained unless I paid a significant fee. Now while I understand the pressures that faculty face to get published, I for one, certainly wouldn’t want my research to be published in a journal that restricts access. As academics we do research so that we can contribute to the review of literature, hoping that others will build upon our ideas and generate a significant amount of research in a certain area. Therefore, it seems prudent that we should support open access journals in making our research more widely available.
The prompt for this blog post mentions that some have indicated that the opening of access to research and data would bring about a second Renaissance — I for one, think that this is a bit of hyperbole. I think that the changes would be as gradual as we are seeing as far as open resources in education. While I don’t think that we would see immediate changes, I believe that the hope is that we would see a shift in the attitudes of researchers — that they would be more likely to freely share their research with each other. It seems as though the greater change would happen in those areas that are typically governed by the private sector. For instance, I recently heard about a call for government funding to map the brain. If this project were to happen and the results of it were openly shared and restricted from patent, I think we might see rapid development in terms of the types of output that would come from a project of this magnitude.
In terms of open data, I think the problem might be public access and usability of this type of data. I am a firm believer in good design and if all of this data is going to be thrown out there without being skinned in some sort of interface for accessing the data, only the very diligent will be able to understand this data. If we want data to serve the good of the public (and not just the educated few), we need to develop ways in which all of the public can easily interact with and access this data.
Here is my updated mind map, with open access, open data, and open research thrown in:
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