Pressing the Open Access Button

Submitted by Carlyn Zwarenstein on November 21, 2013 - 15:43

The world of open information is so new and humming with ideas that it’s hard to divine what’s likely to stick. This is a good place to check out some of the newest initiatives.

Here’s one:

Open Access Button lets anyone flag incidents where they seek and are denied access to research findings because they are under subscription. It’s an innovative way of beginning to establish the real cost of not moving to open access models. On the website, a map shows a running tally of button clicks so that you can see that, so far, 873 paywalls have been hit by Open Access Button users. The geographic distribution seems to relate to the location of the person seeking information. Respondents are able to identify themselves as students, researchers, advocates… or not identify themselves at all.

The site describes its nifty button as

“a safe, easy to use browser bookmarklet that you can use to show the global effects of research paywalls - and to help get access to the research you need. Every time you hit a paywall blocking your research, click the button. Fill out a short form, add your experience to the map along with thousands of others. Then use our tools to search for access to papers, and spread the word with social media. Every person who uses the Open Access Button brings us closer to changing the system.”

Licensed under Creative Commons, the Open Access Button project was founded by a pharmacology student, a medical student, and the current director of a UK-based student global health organization, working with web developers. Its development has been supported or funded by a range of non-profit open access organizations and alliances (like the Open Knowledge Foundation, and like the Open Science Federation, linked above) as well as BMJ, PLOS and other publishers. That list appears here.

A spin-off of the Open Access Button has been the Open Data Button, which anyone can use on their online material to indicate that it is “open”.

Fun (and promising) stuff.

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