Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Open Access & OER

The concept of publishing for impact rather than for pay was highlighted in this week's chapter read on Open Access. Impact is seen as not only beneficial to the larger scholarly world, but to to the author as well, in that they "score career points" (p. 2) and have a better chance of receiving promotions, grants, and the like. So the impact (once measured) is as generous as it might be self-serving.

By chance, I happened to read another article this week, "Widening the Threshold: Using Scholarship as Conversation to Welcome Students to Science," in which another side to career benefits and publishing was mentioned. In this article, undergraduate students observed that

"lab techs who do much of this kind of work but are rarely credited as authors or invited to participate in larger conversations. This was an opportunity for students to reflect on how people might choose research collaborators, and indeed who counts as a collaborator. It sparked their beginning to think about how authorship credit is impacted by social expectations and biases. This, in turn, can help students see that citation and collaboration are not markers solely of virtue but of social forces."

This says to me that even articles published as open access are not always beneficial to all creators of the information, or even fair. Previous to this revelation, I had pictured open access material as something morally good. But maybe I should take a different perspective. Maybe morals have little to do with it.

This same article discusses barriers to access and to perceptions of authority based on social structures like gender and race, etc., which further tied in to the discussion on Tuesday among the conference participants in Toronto.

One more related idea that presented itself to me haphazardly to me was during my viewing of a webinar from ACRL titled "Beyond Citation Counting: Metrics and Altmetrics for Demonstrating Scholarly Impact." The very simple idea was that "the absence of metrics [does not equal] the absence of impact." I think of this more in terms of OER, where materials can be so remixed that they are almost unrecognizable. Their core purpose may still have a big impact on a large audience, but it can't necessarily be accurately assessed.

I'm still trying to wrap my head around the interconnectedness of scholarly communication in its many forms. I feel like this blog is all over the place, but that I could map these ideas onto a piece of paper and show myself the big picture. So many factors play into the dissemination of scholarly works, the measurement of impact of those works, and the driving force behind it all: just we humans, engaged in sharing information we find important.

Link to the article above:


  1. All over the place is OK, opens new pathways, ups the odds of ideas escaping the Ivory Silo™ into the wild.

  2. I agree with Vanessa! You are making mental connections which is how we learn new things, both drawing on what we already know and adding to it! I also am interested in the idea of publishing for impact vs pay. Of course we need to make a living, but isn’t teaching all about impact?