Access to academic libraries: an indicator of openness?

Authors  : Chun-Kai (Karl) Huang, Lucy Montgomery, Cameron Neylon, Katie Wilson


Open access to digital research output is increasing, but academic library policies can place restrictions on public access to libraries. This paper reports on a preliminary study to investigate the correlation between academic library access policies and institutional positions of openness to knowledge.


This primarily qualitative study used document and data analysis to examine the content of library access/use policies of 12 academic institutions in eight countries. The outcomes were statistically correlated with institutional open access publication policies and practices.


We used an automated search tool together with manual searching to retrieve web-based library access policies, then categorised and counted the levels and conditions of public access. We compared scores for institutional library access features, open access features and percentages of open access publications.


Academic library policies may suggest open public access but multi-layered user categories, privileges and fees charged can inhibit access, with disparities in openness emerging between library policies and institutional open access policies.

Conclusion. As open access publishing options and mandates expand, physical entry and access to print and electronic resources in academic libraries is contracting. This conflicts with global library and information commitments to open access to knowledge.


Dimensions of open research: critical reflections on openness in the ROER4D project

Authors : Thomas William King, Cheryl-Ann Hodgkinson-Williams, Michelle Willmers, Sukaina Walji

Open Research has the potential to advance the scientific process by improving the transparency, rigour, scope and reach of research, but choosing to experiment with Open Research carries with it a set of ideological, legal, technical and operational considerations.

Researchers, especially those in resource-constrained situations, may not be aware of the complex interrelations between these different domains of open practice, the additional resources required, or how Open Research can support traditional research practices.

Using the Research on Open Educational Resources for Development (ROER4D) project as an example, this paper attempts to demonstrate the interrelation between ideological, legal, technical and operational openness; the resources that conducting Open Research requires; and the benefits of an iterative, strategic approach to one’s own Open Research practice.

In this paper we discuss the value of a critical approach towards Open Research to ensure better coherence between ‘open’ ideology (embodied in strategic intention) and ‘open’ practice (the everyday operationalisation of open principles).

URL : Dimensions of open research: critical reflections on openness in the ROER4D project

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Open Science by Design

Contributors : National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Policy and Global Affairs; Board on Research Data and Information; Committee on Toward an Open Science Enterprise

Openness and sharing of information are fundamental to the progress of science and to the effective functioning of the research enterprise. The advent of scientific journals in the 17th century helped power the Scientific Revolution by allowing researchers to communicate across time and space, using the technologies of that era to generate reliable knowledge more quickly and efficiently.

Harnessing today’s stunning, ongoing advances in information technologies, the global research enterprise and its stakeholders are moving toward a new open science ecosystem.

Open science aims to ensure the free availability and usability of scholarly publications, the data that result from scholarly research, and the methodologies, including code or algorithms, that were used to generate those data.

Open Science by Design is aimed at overcoming barriers and moving toward open science as the default approach across the research enterprise.

This report explores specific examples of open science and discusses a range of challenges, focusing on stakeholder perspectives. It is meant to provide guidance to the research enterprise and its stakeholders as they build strategies for achieving open science and take the next steps.


On the role of openness in education: A historical reconstruction

Authors : Sandra Peter, Markus Deimann

In the context of education, “open(ness)” has become the watermark for a fast growing number of learning materials and associated platforms and practices from a variety of institutions and individuals. Open Educational Resources (OER), Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC), and more recently, initiatives such as Coursera are just some of the forms this movement has embraced under the “open” banner.

Yet, ongoing calls to discuss and elucidate the “meaning” and particularities of openness in education point to a lack of clarity around the concept. “Open” in education is currently mostly debated in the context of the technological developments that allowed it to emerge in its current forms.

More in-depth explorations of the philosophical underpinnings are moved to the backstage. Therefore, this paper proposes a historical approach to bring clarity to the concept and unmask the tensions that have played out in the past.

It will then show how this knowledge can inform current debates around different open initiatives.


The Open Revolution : Rewriting the rules of the information age

Author : Rufus Pollock

Forget everything you think you know about the digital age. It’s not about privacy, surveillance, AI or blockchain—it’s about ownership. Because, in a digital age, who owns information controls the future.

In this urgent and provocative book, Rufus Pollock shows how today’s “Closed” digital economy is the source of problems ranging from growing inequality, to unaffordable medicines, to the power of a handful of tech monopolies to control how we think and vote.

He proposes a solution that charts a path to a more equitable, innovative and profitable future for all.

URL : The Open Revolution : Rewriting the rules of the information age

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Understanding Open Knowledge in China: A Chinese Approach to Openness?

Authors: Lucy Montgomery, Xiang Ren

This paper examines the development of open knowledge in China through two case studies: the development of Chinese open access (OA) journals, and national-level OA repositories.

Open access and open knowledge are emerging as a site of both grass-roots activism, and top-down intervention in the practices of scholarship and scholarly publishing in China. Although the language, vision and strategies of the global open knowledge movement are undoubtedly present, so too are the messy realities of open access and open knowledge innovation in a local context.

In attempting to position open access developments in China within a diverse and contested global landscape of open knowledge innovation we draw on Moore’s (2017) conception of open access as a boundary object: an object that is understood differently within individual communities but which maintains enough structure to be understood between communities (Moore 2017; Star and Griesemer 1989).

Viewed as a boundary object, the concept of open knowledge is making it possible for China to engage with the global open knowledge movement, as a beneficiary of the innovation of others, and as an open knowledge innovator in its own right.

URL : Understanding Open Knowledge in China: A Chinese Approach to Openness?


Framing Power: Tracing Key Discourses in Open Science Policies

Authors : Denisse Albornoz, Maggie Huang, Issra Martin, Maria Mateus, Aicha Touré, Leslie Chan

Given that “Open Science” is becoming a popular policy object around the world, this study sought to identify key narratives about Open Science in policy, and critically examine the extent to which they are sustaining or strengthening multi-layered domination and inequality schemes that pre-exist in scientific knowledge production.

To do so, we conducted a content analysis of Open Science policies stemming from Europe, North America, Latin America, Asia and Africa to understand which narratives about Open Science policies are produced, reproduced and by whom; and in turn, whose interests may be neglected in this process.

We found that Open Science policies, mostly stemming from Europe, frame “openness” as a vehicle to promote technological change as part of an inevitable and necessary cultural shift to modernity in scientific production.

The global reach of these narratives, and the technologies, standards and models these narratives sustain, are dictating modes of working and collaborating among those who can access them, and creating new categories of exclusion that invalidate knowledge that cannot meet this criteria, putting historically marginalized researchers and publics at further disadvantage.