Open access to research can close gaps for people with disabilities

In a long-overdue move, the federal Office of Science and Technology Policy has issued guidance on making federally supported research and publications available to all without delay or embargo. This remarkable announcement about open access has the potential to remove information barriers that have long held back social and scientific progress.

Even with immediate open access to research results, however, people with disabilities face unique barriers to information access. These issues must be considered as this policy takes shape.

As disabled researchers with vision impairments, we do not have equitable access to scientific information. This includes barriers to accessing data and peer-reviewed publications, which too often are not available in accessible formats. This gap in access is in opposition to federal laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act, which support equal access to information.

But scientific information is not limited to downloading journals and databases. Accessing research data can mean using online software, interactive websites or maps, and attending webinars or conferences. When scientific results are not accessible, people with disabilities — researchers, policymakers, advocates, and others —are blocked from full access to information, limiting their research knowledge, participation, and inclusion.

 

Archives, Access and Artificial Intelligence bei Transcript Publishing

“Digital archives are transforming the Humanities and the Sciences. Digitized collections of newspapers and books have pushed scholars to develop new, data-rich methods. Born-digital archives are now better preserved and managed thanks to the development of open-access and commercial software. Digital Humanities have moved from the fringe to the center of academia. Yet, the path from the appraisal of records to their analysis is far from smooth. This book explores crossovers between various disciplines to improve the discoverability, accessibility, and use of born-digital archives and other cultural assets….

 

Introduction
Seiten 7 – 28

Chapter 1: Artificial Intelligence and Discovering the Digitized Photoarchive
Seiten 29 – 60

Chapter 2: Web Archives and the Problem of Access: Prototyping a Researcher Dashboard for the UK Government Web Archive
Seiten 61 – 82

Chapter 3: Design Thinking, UX and Born-digital Archives: Solving the Problem of Dark Archives Closed to Users
Seiten 83 – 108

Chapter 4: Towards Critically Addressable Data for Digital Library User Studies
Seiten 109 – 130

Chapter 5: Reviewing the Reviewers: Training Neural Networks to Read Peer Review Reports
Seiten 131 – 156

Chapter 6: Supervised and Unsupervised: Approaches to Machine Learning for Textual Entities
Seiten 157 – 178

Chapter 7: Inviting AI into the Archives: The Reception of Handwritten Recognition Technology into Historical Manuscript Transcription
Seiten 179 – 204

AFTERWORD: Towards a new Discipline of Computational Archival Science (CAS)
Seiten 205 – 218 …

[From the Introduction:]

The closure of libraries, archives and museums due to the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the urgent need to make archives and cultural heritage materials accessible in digital form. Yet too many born-digital and digitized collections remain closed to researchers and other users due to privacy concerns, copyright and other issues. Born-digital archives are rarely accessible to users. For example, the archival emails of the writer Will Self at the British Library are not listed on the Finding Aid describing the collection, and they are not available to users either onsite or offsite. At a time when emails have largely replaced letters, this severely limits the amount of content openly accessible in archival collections. Even when digital data is publicly available (as in the case of web archives), users often need to physically travel to repositories to consult web pages. In the case of digitized collections, copyright can also be a major obstacle to access. For instance, copyrightprotected texts are not available for download from HathiTrust, a not-for-profit collaborative of academic and research libraries preserving 17+ million digitized items (including around 61% not in the public domain)….

It is important to recognize that “dark” archives contain vast amounts of data essential to scholars – including email corres

A Fork in the Road: OA Books and Visibility-Value in the Humanities · COPIM

“What we see emerging at this time, as a result, is a dual system in which all scientific research will be available to anyone to read, free of charge, while the most significant work in the humanities and social sciences will remain extremely expensive and less visible in the digital world.

This should be grave cause for concern. The humanities, in particular, face a perpetual crisis of value, in which these subjects are called to account for their existence and are asked to re-articulate their societal virtues. But the arguments grow thinner. How can the humanities parrot the oft-repeated liberal humanist line that they exist to produce an educated citizenry capable of participating critically in democracy, when most humanities work remains unreadable by most people?…

Learned societies in the humanities should be concerned (and they are). However, this concern should not be for the revenue streams that they feel are threatened by open access to journal subscriptions, but instead for the future of their disciplines in a world where they cannot justify themselves….

Q&A with Peter Kaufman: Open Access Publishing and Access to Knowledge

In today’s post, as a part of our series of open access success stories that spotlight noteworthy openly accessible books and their authors, we’re featuring Peter Kaufman of MIT Open Learning. Kaufman made his new book, The New Enlightenment and the Fight to Free Knowledge, available for free under a CC-BY license upon its publication by Seven Stories Press. In the book, Kaufman discusses “the powerful forces that have purposely crippled our efforts to share knowledge widely and freely.” By releasing his work under an open access license, Kaufman has pushed back on these forces while also ensuring that his work reaches a wide audience. You can find the open access edition of the book here.

Mellon Foundation awards ITHAKA $1.5 million to make JSTOR accessible to incarcerated college students – ITHAKA

“The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded ITHAKA a new $1.5 million grant to provide incarcerated college students with access to JSTOR, a digital library of journals, books, and other materials. Our aim is for every incarcerated college student in the United States to have access to JSTOR, along with the research skills to use this and other digital resources.

One of the most significant educational challenges that incarcerated college students face is easy, reliable access to high-quality library resources to support their learning. Prisons often do not provide internet access to individuals or offer only limited access to digital resources, sometimes at high cost. This challenge has only grown in the last 12 to 18 months as the COVID-19 pandemic ramped up the need for digital learning solutions and higher education became more accessible to incarcerated individuals through financial aid expansions, including Second Chance Pell….”

Briefing for library directors: Publishers and the textbook market in the higher education sector – publishers-and-the-textbook-market-in-he-library-directors-briefing.pdf

Yhis briefing paper created by the Jisc Learning Content Group provides an overview of the current e-textbook  licensing landscape within higher education institutions. It outlines current practices and their impact on the library and suggests ways in which the sector can exert influence on publishers to change their pricing and access models

Digital sequence information: free access is crucial | Leibniz Institut DSMZ

Global problems such as the extinction of species and the decline of biological diversity, climate change, pandemics and hunger can only be solved with free access to digital sequence information”, states Prof. Jörg Overmann PhD, Scientific Director of the Leibniz Institute DSMZ-German Collection of Microorganisms and Cell Cultures. “Without free access to digital sequence information [DSI], research on a national, European or international level will simply fail to work. Digital sequence information must be preserved as common good”, stresses Prof Overmann. 

Frontiers | The Ethic of Access: An AIDS Activist Won Public Access to Experimental Therapies, and This Must Now Extend to Psychedelics for Mental Illness | Psychiatry

“If patients with mental illnesses are to be treated fairly in comparison with other categories of patients, they must be given access to promising experimental therapies, including psychedelics. The right of early access to promising therapies was advanced as an ethical principle by activist Larry Kramer during the AIDS pandemic, and has now largely been adopted by the medical establishment. Patients are regularly granted access to experimental drugs for many illness categories, such as cancer and infectious diseases. The need for expanded access is especially relevant during evolving crises like the AIDS and the coronavirus pandemics. In contrast to non-psychiatric branches of medicine, psychiatry has failed to expedite access to promising drugs in the face of public health emergencies, psychological crises, the wishes of many patients, and the needs of the community. Psychiatry must catch up to the rest of medicine and allow the preferences of patients for access to guide policy and law regarding unapproved medications like psychedelics….

Open questions include how to amplify the voices of patients regarding experimental therapies like psychedelics, how to implement early access, how to educate the public about this option once it exists, and how to ensure equitable access for multiple marginalized groups. A model of political engagement like ACT UP may not work for patients whose symptoms include lack of motivation and will, and who are at risk for re-traumatization. The authors are exploring an entirely patient-led counterpart to traditional academic peer review, which allows diverse patient communities to provide meaningful input into therapies that result from trials….”

 

COAR releases resource types vocabulary version 3.0 for repositories with new look and feel – COAR

“We are pleased to announce the release of version 3.0 of the resource types vocabulary. Since 2015, three COAR Controlled Vocabularies have been developed and are maintained by the Controlled Vocabulary Editorial Board: Resource types, access rights and version types.  These vocabularies have a new look and are now being managed using the iQvoc platform, hosted by the University of Vienna Library.

Using controlled vocabularies enables repositories to be consistent in describing their resources, helps with search and discovery of content, and allows machine readability for interoperability. The COAR vocabularies are available in several languages, supporting multilingualism across repositories. They also play a key role in making semantic artifacts and repositories compliant with the FAIR Principles, in particular when it comes to findability and interoperability….”

Analyzing Effects of Bias in Research | YIP Institute

“Such is the issue of availability today, that the ability for someone to access research is based almost entirely on their affiliations to any well-funded research program. Michael Eisen, a professor of genetics, genomics, and development at the University of California, Berkeley, has been a staunch proponent of open access and has long warned about the postponement of innovation and discovery due to slow accessibility. As Michael Eisen elaborates in his UC Berkeley Interview from his “point of view, science is getting a raw deal out of this arrangement, because it is providing all the money, but not getting access for everybody on Earth”.  Not only is science getting the short end of the deal but so are taxpayers who are responsible for more than 40% of all academic research and development.

The largest issue that Professor Eisen points out is how institutions choose to hire or tenure solely based on publication in prestigious academic journals. Effectively, what Universities are doing is handing the process of professorial evaluation to publishers like Elsevier and paying for it in the thousands of dollars they spend on journal subscriptions. 

The cost of these subscriptions help form yet another divide between educational institutions in developed and developing countries. As Peter Suber wrote in his book Open Access, “In 2008, Harvard subscribed to 98,900 serials and Yale to 73,900. The best-funded research library in India, at the Indian Institute of Science, subscribed to 10,600. Several sub-Saharan African university libraries subscribed to zero.” The cost climbing cost of these journals has pushed even endowment rich universities like Harvard to take on cancellation efforts….”

Press release: New Research4Life User Review sheds light on users’ needs and challenges

“Research4Life programs make a significant positive difference to research experiences in low- and middle-income countries – but only when users know they are available and how to use them.

This is a key finding of an independent Research4Life user experience review conducted during 2020 using a combination of interviews, surveys and focus groups by INASP across a range of countries and institution types: the findings will guide Research4Life’s future work in reducing the knowledge gap between researchers in industrialized nations and those in low- and middle-income countries….”

Freedom Reads

“The once “Million Book Project” embraces a new name: Freedom Reads

It was never about a number — no finite end goal like that. And we always knew it doesn’t take tens of thousands of books to counter what prison does to the spirit; sometimes it just takes one, at the right time, in the right mood, when the urgency for new possibility is enough. So we’re claiming a new name that unmistakably honors our driving recognition of the link between reading and freedom: Freedom Reads. New name, same commitment to supporting with books the efforts of people in prison to deepen and envision their lives in new ways….

More than two million people live in state and federal prisons in this country. They live in facilities characterized by concrete floors and steel cell doors, by handcuffs and homemade shanks. Founded by Reginald Dwayne Betts, who knows firsthand the dispiriting forces of prison, Freedom Reads uses literature as a powerful antidote to the hopelessness incarceration breeds. Inspired by Frederick Douglass’s recognition that freedom begins with a book, Freedom Reads supports the efforts of people in prison to transform their lives through increased access to books, writers and performing artists.”

“Le libre accès à la recherche scientifique, commun de l’humanité” par Pablo Rauzy (“Free access to scientific research, common to mankind” by Pablo Rauzy)

From Google’s English:

“Open and unlimited access to scientific publications must be defended and developed, against commodification and privatization: this is the point of Pablo Rauzy, researcher and activist.”