International Day for Universal Access to Information

“Since 2016 UNESCO marks 28 September as the “International Day for Universal Access to Information” (IDUAI), following the adoption of the 38 C/Resolution 57 declaring 28 September of every year as International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI).  

The IDUAI has particular relevance with Agenda 2030 with specific reference to:

SDG 2 on investment in rural infrastructure and technology development,
SDG 11 on positive economic, social and environmental links between urban, peri-urban and rural areas and
SDG 16 on initiatives to adopt and implement constitutional, statutory and/or policy guarantees for public access to information….”

Open cultural heritage collections & institutions by digital means: A webinar series

“Open GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives & museums) is an international movement around open cultural heritage data. This webinar series is focusing on how museums and other cultural heritage institutions can open up towards their audiences with the help of digital data and media. The aim is that visitors can use data and become active participants within the institution. Both Swedish and international speakers present their work in the context of digital cultural heritage data. Have a look at the program to discover more!

This series is based on the aspects:

Museum and cultural heritage institution staff members, as well as the interested public (such as students), will have the chance to exchange thoughts on digital openness in the sector and discuss ideas and examples.
An important aspect of the series is the assumption that digital openness in museums and cultural heritage institutions is a perspective: Institutions can strive towards digital openness, but this means constant work – with changing technologies and shifting standards. This also means that every kind of institution can take part in this series, small or large, beginners or advanced participants in the open GLAM discussion. Everyone should be able to talk frankly about successful and failed digital activities – so others can learn from those experiences.
As this is a webinar series, everyone can take part from their desk. Especially small institutions do not always have the resources to participate in conferences and – as a result – important discussions. This is also a possibility for more diverse discussions on digital openness in the sector….”

Are Article Processing Charges (APCs) for Open Access the Worst Thing in the History of Publishing?

“Considering that the fully open access publisher PLOS is a member of SSP and that the biggest supporters of the organization like Wiley, Elsevier, and Springer Nature all have countless open access journals , I am surprised that the SSP President would say such a thing. But leaving that aside, I am stunned that someone can attack APC-based open access publishing in this way, without being upset about subscriptions.



Angela Cochran, “Why do you say that the APC-based open access publishing is the worst thing ever in scholarly publishing? Not perfect, but APC-based publishing has gotten us to a point where millions of papers are free to all instead of behind paywalls.”


Ms. Cochran responded with 8 points that I think warrant rebutting. (Many are common talking points of subscription publishers when they attack open access, so I’ll just quote my previous posts on those.)….”

CORE and FOAMres • LITFL • Open Access

“CORE ( offers free access to millions of research papers and host the world’s largest collection of open access full texts. CORE is a not-for-profit service delivered by The Open University and Jisc

CORE’s mission is to aggregate all open access research outputs from repositories and journals worldwide and make them available to the public. CORE facilitates free unrestricted access to research for all and aims to:

support the right of citizens to access research, free of charge
contribute to a cultural change by promoting open access, the fast-growing movement for good,
work collaboratively to support both content consumers and content providers
use artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques to enrich and organise research content and support users in discovering knowledge of their interest….”

ARL Supports University of California Libraries’ Commitment to Barrier-Free Access to Information – Association of Research Libraries

“The Libraries of the University of California (UC) are seeking transformative agreements with publishers such that access to the research of UC faculty is open to all, not limited to those who can afford it. In February 2019, the UC Libraries withdrew from negotiations with the publisher Elsevier due to lack of progress, and in July, Elsevier cut off access to current content for all UC campuses.

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) expresses strong support for the UC Libraries in their efforts to initiate change and expand access to research. While ARL member library approaches to transformative change may vary, we applaud UC’s commitment to the values and vision they have articulated even at the expense of disruption. In particular, we commend the strong coalition of faculty, librarians, and administrators across the UC system, that together developed the principles and together managed the negotiations….”

Open data on industry payments to healthcare providers reveal potential hidden costs to the public | Nature Communications

Abstract:  Healthcare industry players make payments to medical providers for non-research expenses. While these payments may pose conflicts of interest, their relationship with overall healthcare costs remains largely unknown. In this study, we linked Open Payments data on providers’ industry payments with Medicare data on healthcare costs. We investigated 374,766 providers’ industry payments and healthcare costs. We demonstrate that providers receiving higher amounts of industry payments tend to bill higher drug and medical costs. Specifically, we find that a 10% increase in industry payments is associated with 1.3% higher medical and 1.8% higher drug costs. For a typical provider, for example, a 10% or $25 increase in annual industry payments would be associated with approximately $1,100 higher medical costs and $100 higher drug costs. Furthermore, the association between payments and healthcare costs varies markedly across states and correlates with political leaning, being stronger in more conservative states.

A Human-Centric Digital Manifesto for Europe – Open Society Foundations

“Public money should be invested towards societal benefit wherever possible. In the case of research, making scientific and academic works freely available is of clear benefit for universities and public institutions. The former benefit from greater visibility for their work and their staff, as the outcome of their work can be improved and reused by similar institutions or by individual experts. The latter benefit from access to the work in which they have directly or indirectly invested.

At the same time, by requiring the use of open standards, open source code, open hardware and open data, the EU will be investing in improving its security, avoiding vendor lock-in, ensuring transparency as well as control of technologies, and allowing for cross-border collaboration within EU Member States’ institutions and with non-EU partners. This will strengthen innovation and better ensure the achievement of broader policy goals on data protection, privacy and security….”

OA Monographs in Europe’s Research Libraries: Best-Practices, Opportunities & Challenges – LIBER

“Over 80% of surveyed LIBER libraries say they distribute Open Access (OA) books via a repository and include them in discovery services or catalogues. A further 40% publish OA books, or plan to do so, and a quarter provides library funding to pay author fees related to OA book publishing.

These are among the insights from a recent questionnaire on OA Monographs, circulated in April by LIBER’s Open Access Working Group. The survey aimed to investigate the activities and strategies related to OA books already in place across LIBER’s network and to identify best practices, opportunities and challenges related to the publishing and implementation of OA for monographs….”

WikiJournal User Group – Wikiversity

“The WikiJournal User Group publishes a set of open-access, peer-reviewed academic journals with no publishing costs to authors. Its goal is to provide free, quality-assured knowledge. Secondly, it aims to bridge the Academia-Wikipedia gap by enabling expert contributions in the traditional academic publishing format to improve Wikipedia content….

Appropriate material is integrated into Wikipedia for added reach and exposure….

At least 2 reviewers per article. All peer reviews are published and publicly accessible….

All of our published articles are openly accessible under a free Creative Commons or similar license….

We are a fully non-profit journal with a volunteer board of editors, and we therefore have no publication charges of any kind….

The journal group is also currently applying to be a Wikimedia Foundation Sister Project. This would give greater control over the workings and formatting of the site, as well as a dedicated domain name….”

Access to Information Is Not Universal: Here’s Why That Matters

Today is the International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI).

Image credit: UNESCO, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

You may be wondering why this day is necessary—particularly in 2019, when the average person is inundated with an estimated 34 gigabytes of information every day, from emails and text messages to Youtube videos and news programs. In fact, it’s easy to take information for granted. However, access to public information, in particular, is not universal.

“Although technology has increased the amount of information and systematized the collection of data, people and communities across the world still lack access to critical, public information,” explains Bushra Ebadi. As a researcher and Executive Committee Member of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, Bushra relies on public information to study and develop solutions for issues such as insecurity, corruption, inequality, and climate change.

Access to information “is an integral part of the right to freedom of expression” and “a key enabler towards inclusive knowledge societies.”

According to Moez Chakchouk, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, access to information “is an integral part of the right to freedom of expression” and “a key enabler towards inclusive knowledge societies.” Despite this, UNESCO says that many governments “do not have national legislation on access to information as a specific expression of the law,” otherwise known as freedom of information legislation. This means that millions of people do not have the right or the ability to access public information. Further, “Even when these laws exist they are not necessarily abided by,” adds Bushra, “there can be a lot of red tape to access information in a timely manner.”

This lack of access is particularly worrying for researchers and activists, like Bushra. Without universal, open access to data from governments or research institutions, for example, developing effective solutions to global problems is difficult.

A Closer Look At Government Data

Increasingly, governments are using tools like Creative Commons’ CC0 Public Domain Dedication (CC Zero) to maximize the “re-use of data and databases” by clarifying that these resources are in the public domain and not restricted by copyright. However, there are many instances when data collected by governments are not made easily accessible (e.g., through an online data portal or open source data set).

In 2017, the World Wide Web Foundation found that almost every country included in its Open Data Barometer report failed to adequately share important data with the public. For example, only 71% of the observed government data sets were published online, only 25% were available via an open license, and only 7% of government data sets were truly open—meaning they “can be freely used, modified, and shared by anyone for any purpose.” The Foundation also reported that many of the available data sets were “incomplete, out of date, of low quality, and fragmented.”

In her work, Bushra often relies on government data to conduct policy research, but has routinely experienced problems. “The relevance of the data is largely dependent on how and what information was collected, as well as the format it is available in,” she explains. While studying issues related to forced migration and gender discrimination in the Global South, for example, she found it difficult to access reliable data.

“By restricting access to those who can afford it or have power and privilege, we support a system and culture of elitism…”

To compensate for this lack of data, researchers must often rely on data collected by non-government entities—which are typically kept behind expensive paywalls. According to Bushra, this is particularly detrimental. “By restricting access to those who can afford it or have power and privilege, we support a system and culture of elitism in which a select group of people with access are able to dictate what is done with information and how it is used.”

Attendees meet at Rights Con, Tunisia 2019Image credit: Rights Con 2019, CC BY-NC 2.0

The Power of Information

Universal, open access to public information, particularly government data, not only facilitates scientific collaboration and innovation, it also empowers communities that have been historically marginalized and silenced.

“Access to information is intrinsically tied to the right to know and the right to exist,” Bushra emphasizes, “and without access to information, citizens lack the tools they need to hold their governments and people in power accountable.”

Information is powerful—that’s why, even in 2019, the International Day for Universal Access to Information remains not only important, but necessary.

To learn more and get involved, visit UNESCO’s website or sign up for their newsletter.

The post Access to Information Is Not Universal: Here’s Why That Matters appeared first on Creative Commons.

So What’s the DEAL?: An Interview with Springer Nature’s Dagmar Laging – The Scholarly Kitchen

“In late August, Springer Nature and Germany’s Projekt DEAL announced that they had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) laying out the fundamentals of a national-level transformative open access agreement, whereby “more than 13,000 articles by German scholars and scientists are expected to be published open access (OA) per year, making them freely and immediately available to the world and increasing visibility and usage of German research published by Springer Nature.” I contacted Dagmar Laging, Springer Nature’s VP for Institutional Sales-Europe, who graciously agreed to answer some questions about this emerging deal….”

PACER Court Records ‘Can Never Be Free,’ Judge Says (1)

“Making the judiciary’s electronic filings free to the public without an alternative funding source likely would result in steep court fee increases for litigants and hinder access to justice due to cost, a federal judge told a congressional panel Sept. 26.

Judge Audrey Fleissig of the U.S. District court for the Eastern District of Missouri also said in testimony for the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts, IP, and the internet that shifting costs away from users without another funding plan would burden courts with new costs.

“Our case management and public access systems can never be free because they require over $100 million per year just to operate,” Fleissig said. “That money must come from somewhere.” …”

Open Education – Office of Educational Technology

“We believe that educational opportunities should be available to all learners. Creating an open education ecosystem involves making learning materials, data, and educational opportunities available without restrictions imposed by copyright laws, access barriers, or exclusive proprietary systems that lack interoperability and limit the free exchange of information….

In the 2017 National Education Technology Plan, the Department defines openly licensed educational resources as teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under a license that permits their free use, reuse, modification, and sharing with others. Digital openly licensed resources can include complete online courses, modular digital textbooks as well as more granular resources such as images, videos, and assessment items….”

Connecticut One of 20 States Leading the Charge on Creating Open Education Resources That Stretch From K-12 to College | The 74

“As states across the country look for ways to provide more high-quality resources to classroom teachers, universities have been experimenting with materials that reduce the crushing cost of college textbooks.

In Connecticut, one state commission is looking to unite the two and share open educational resources at all levels, from local school districts through state universities and colleges….”

Pubfair: a framework for sustainable, distributed, open science publishing services | APO

Abstract:  Over the last thirty years, digitally-networked technologies have disrupted traditional media, turning business models on their head and changing the conditions for the creation, packaging and distribution of content. Yet, scholarly communication still looks remarkably as it did in the pre-digital age. The primary unit of dissemination remains the research article (or book in some disciplines), and today’s articles still bear a remarkable resemblance to those that populated the pages of Oldenburg’s Philosophical Transactions 350 years ago. In an age of such disruptive innovation, it is striking how little digital technologies have impacted scholarly publishing; and this is also somewhat ironic, since the Web was developed by scientists for research purposes.

Pubfair is a conceptual model for a modular open source publishing framework which builds upon a distributed network of repositories to enable the dissemination and quality-control of a range of research outputs including publications, data, and more. Pubfair aims to introduce significant innovation into scholarly publishing. It enables different stakeholders (funders, institutions, scholarly societies, individuals scientists) to access a suite of functionalities to create their own dissemination channels, with built in open review and transparent processes. The model minimizes publishing costs while maintaining academic standards by connecting communities with iterative publishing services linked to their preferred repository. Such a publishing environment has the capacity to transform the scholarly communication system, making it more research-centric, dissemination-oriented and open to and supportive of innovation, while also collectively managed by the scholarly community.