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The Updated Student Statement on the Right to Research and Education

In the digital age, students and early career researchers should have access to the research and educational materials necessary to complete an up-to-date education and contribute effectively as the next generation of scholars.

I. Open Access to Scholarly and Scientific Publications

The Internet and other advances in technology have made it possible to share information more efficiently than ever before. Yet, academic journals can cost $20,000 for a single subscription[1] or $30 for an individual article[2]. Despite these high prices, authors of scholarly articles are traditionally not paid for their work[3]. The profits go solely to publishers of the journals. A vast amount of research is funded from public sources—yet the cost of access prevents the public and many academics from reading and reusing the results.

Subscription-based systems of publication rely on locking information inside expensive, inefficient journals—an unnecessary limitation in today’s world. Though we have powerful text and data analysis tools that can help make new discoveries faster, researchers are often prevented from using them due to restrictive licensing agreements or simple lack of access. Digital technologies now provide an entirely new platform upon which to create, distribute, and reuse knowledge. Instead of printing and purchasing an expensive text, we can now simply load a webpage. Open Access is a modern improvement on the closed, subscription-access system of scholarly communication Open Access means that peer-reviewed journal articles are made freely available online, immediately upon publication with full re-use rights[4]. Entire journals can be Open Access[5], or an author can provide access to an individual article by placing a copy online in an open repository such as the arXiv or PubMed Central[6]. Like subscription-based journals, Open Access publications depend on the same rigorous methods of quality control, including peer review. For those in disciplines that emphasize the publication of monographs, such as the Humanities, a growing number of options are available to make these works freely accessible online under an open license, alongside traditional print copies[7].

  • Open Access improves the educational experience and democratizes access to research. All students and researchers, regardless of their institution’s ability to afford publications, should benefit from access to the full scholarly record.

  • Open Access accelerates research.  Open Access connects researchers with the publications they need when they need them, eliminating the burden of navigating paywalls. Open Access also empowers researchers with full reuse rights that enable new techniques for text and data mining, paving the way for faster advancement[8].

  • Open Access increases the visibility and impact of scholarship. Studies show that Open Access articles are viewed, downloaded, and cited more frequently than articles that are accessible only through subscription[9]. Similarly for monographs, open online publication creates the potential for a larger audience and greater impact.

II. Open Education

Technology provides a platform to enhance both access to and the quality of education on a global scale. Yet, the cost of educational resources—particularly textbooks—often harms students’ ability to obtain the materials they need for their courses and contributes significantly to the rising cost of education.[10] In many parts of the world, textbooks have become prohibitively expensive, even for introductory courses where the subject material is well-established.[11] Traditional publishing models prevent educators from taking full advantage of today’s technology to update materials or adapt them to be more locally relevant.

Open Education seeks to maximize the power of the Internet to improve teaching and learning. At its core are Open Educational Resources (OER), which are teaching, learning and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others.[12] OER include materials such as digital textbooks, tutorials, video lectures, and software, which provide the building blocks for a complete education that is freely available to all.

  • Open Education removes cost as a barrier to educational resources. Students can access OER online at no cost and can also download, print, save, and share the material freely.[13]

  • Open Education improves teaching and learning outcomes. OER can be freely translated, updated, and customized to support innovative pedagogical techniques. Studies show that OER can achieve learning outcomes that meet or exceed those of traditional educational materials.[14] [15]

  • Open Education empowers students to enrich their own learning. Without price barriers, students are free to incorporate materials beyond those assigned and continue learning after their formal education ends.

III. Open Data

Our increasingly data-rich research environment poses new challenges and provides new opportunities for the sharing, review, publication, and replication of research results. To realize these advances fully, research data must be shared openly.

By Open Data, we mean research data that is freely available on the internet permitting any user to download, copy, analyze, re-process, pass to software, or use for any other purpose without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself.[16] Using widely available online tools, researchers can make the data underlying their research openly available and receive appropriate recognition including citations[17].

  • Open Data improves the integrity of research. Open Data enhances researchers’ ability to replicate and verify findings, addressing the problem of reproducibility in research.

  • Open Data catalyses and accelerates research. Open Data facilitates collaboration, data mining, reuse, and further analysis of results to ensure we don’t miss breakthroughs and can make discoveries more quickly.

  • Open Data helps prevent duplicate work. By publishing the data underlying research—including negative results—the research community can more easily build upon the work of others without having to duplicate efforts, saving time and money.

IV. Call to Action

We, the undersigned organizations representing students and early career researchers, hereby endorse Open Access, Open Education, and Open Data as necessary and synergistic advancements for harnessing the Internet and digital technologies to maximize the benefit of research and education.
We also hereby call upon universities, governments, funders, students, researchers, and educators to make Open Access, Open Education, and Open Research Data the default systems for scholarly communication and learning materials.

Universities should:

  • Adopt and effectively implement policies that ensure access to their faculty’s research, such as the policies adopted at Harvard University[18], the University of Nairobi[19], and CERN[20],[21].

  • Adopt policies that encourage faculty to publish openly and discourage the use of journal-based metrics, such as the Impact Factor.

  • Support the use and creation of Open Educational Resources, while respecting faculty’s right to assign learning materials and rewarding the work of those who develop OER.

  • Adopt policies to promote Open Data to the extent possible and support researchers in developing data management strategies.

  • Reward faculty and researchers for making their research outputs and educational materials openly available.

Governments and funders should:

  • Adopt policies that ensure Open Access to research—such as those of the Gates Foundation[22] and Wikimedia Foundation[23]—or, at a minimum, guarantee public access with as short of a delay as possible, such as the US National Institutes of Health[24] and the European Commission[25].

  • Invest in the creation and use of Open Educational Resources, and adopt policies that ensure that publicly funded educational resources are openly licensed.

  • Adopt policies to promote the sharing of Open Data in research to the extent possible.

  • Reward researchers for making their research outputs and educational materials openly available.

Students, researchers and educators should:

  • Publish in Open Access journals and deposit their peer-reviewed manuscripts in open repositories, where possible under a Creative Commons attribution only (CC BY) license.

  • Utilize Open Educational Resources in place of expensive, traditional materials when academically appropriate, and share educational materials openly where possible.

  • Make data underlying their research openly available as soon as practicable, unless there are legitimate concerns such as privacy[26].

  • Encourage institutions to adopt policies that promote open publication, the use and creation of Open Educational Resources, and the sharing of research data.

We will undertake activities, in our membership and on our campuses, to educate students about Open Access, Open Education, and Open Data and to advocate for policies that make these the default systems for scholarly communication and learning materials.


[1] The cost for an institutional print subscription of the journal Brain Research was $19,952 in 2013: http://store.elsevier.com/product.jsp?issn=00068993

[2] The most common price per article for Elsevier journals on ScienceDirect is $31.50 as of October 18, 2013 (http://info.sciencedirect.com/sciencedirect/buying/individual_article_purchase_options/ppv)

[3] On the origin of scholarly journals, see Jean-Claude Guédon, “In Oldenburg’s Long Shadow: Librarians, Research Scientists, Publishers, and the Control of Scientific Publishing,” Association of Research Libraries, 2001. http://www.arl.org/resources/pubs/mmproceedings/138guedon.shtml Some authors are paid for journal articles. On some of these exceptions, see: “Open access when authors are paid,” SPARC Open Access Newsletter, December 2, 2003. http://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/4552040/suber_paid.htm?sequence=1

[4] As defined in the Budapest Open Access Initiative, the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing, and the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities (http://www.soros.org/openaccess/read.shtml;http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/bethesda.htmhttp://oa.mpg.de/openaccess-berlin/berlindeclaration.html)

[5] For a comprehensive list, visit the Directory of Open Access Journals at http://www.doaj.org

[6] For a comprehensive list, visit the Director of Open Access Repositories at http://opendoar.org

[8] CED Report on the effect of Open Standards and Open Source on innovation: .https://www.ced.org/pdf/Open-Standards-Open-Source-and-Open-Innovation.pdf

[9] “The effect of open access and downloads ('hits') on citation impact: a bibliography of studies”, Open Citation Project (http://opcit.eprints.org/oacitation-biblio.html)

[10] U.S. Government Accountability Office.  Enhanced Offerings Appear to Drive Recent Price Increases. July 29, 2005. http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-05-806

[11] The Student PIRGs. A Cover to Cover Solution: How Open Textbooks are the Path to Textbook Affordability. http://www.studentpirgs.org/reports/cover-cover-solution

[12] The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Open Educational Resources Defined. http://www.hewlett.org/programs/education/open-educational-resources

[13] Ibid.

[14] Hilton III, J., & Laman, C. 2012. One college’s use of an open psychology textbook. Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning, 27(3), 265-272.

[15] Feldstein, A., Martin, M., Hudson, A., Warren, K., Hilton III, J., & Wiley, D. 2012. Open Textbooks and Increased Student Access and Outcomes. European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning. http://www.eurodl.org/?article=533

[16] http://sparcopen.org/open-data/

[17] Guidance for making data openly accessible can be found in the Panton Principles for Open Data in Science: http://pantonprinciples.org

[18] Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences Open Access Policy: https://osc.hul.harvard.edu/hfaspolicy

[19] University of Nairobi Open Access Policy: http://erepository.uonbi.ac.ke/bitstream/handle/123456789/7447/UoN%20Open%20Access%20Policy%20Final%20-%20Dec%202012.pdf?sequence=1

[20] CERN Open Access policy: http://library.web.cern.ch/oa/policy

[21] A comprehensive list of open access policies can be accessed through the ROARMAP: http://roarmap.eprints.org

[22] Gates Foundation Open Access Policy: http://www.gatesfoundation.org/how-we-work/general-information/open-access-policy

[23] Wikimedia Foundation Open Access Policy: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Open_access_policy

[24] NIH Public Access Policy: http://publicaccess.nih.gov/policy.htm

[25] European Commission Open Access Policy in Horizon 2020: http://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/data/ref/h2020/grants_manual/hi/oa_pilot/h2020-hi-oa-pilot-guide_en.pdf

[26] Peter Suber, “Six things that researchers need to know about open access”, SPARC Open Access Newsletter, February 2, 2006 (http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/newsletter/02-02-06.htm#know)

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