Right to Research Coalition


How to Get Started: Student Governments

Whether undergraduate or graduate, the students on your campus rely on access to academic journals for their research, education, and professional development.  Each of the student governments in our coalition recognizes this need and views expanding access to research as a fundamental part of their mission to advocate for their students’ best interests.  We hope you’ll join us in the fight to expand students’ access to research. 

To get started, read through the steps below, and if you have any questions, feel free to send an email to contact [at] righttoresearch [dot] org.

STEP ONE: Get Up To Date, Get Connected

Use the Learn section of our Web site to get up to speed on everything from the challenges students and others face getting access to the results of research, to the impact of limited access, to how we can solve this problem.

After you’ve learned what we’re fighting for (and why we're fired up), get connected by subscribing to our blog or Twitter feed, or by friending us on Facebook. That way you’ll know all the latest news and get our Action Alerts when there are exciting new opportunities for you to make a difference, such as when a bill is introduced.

STEP TWO: Join the Coalition

To become a member, endorse the Student Statement on the Right to Research, the statement of principles around which our coalition is based.   You can read and sign the statement here.  You can either pass the Student Statement itself as a resolution, or you can pass a resolution that explicitly endorses the Student Statement.  Use our template resolution as a starting point.

STEP THREE: Advocate Nationally 

By advocating at the national level for public access policies, you can have a hand in making seismic shifts that will open up billions of dollars in research that was previously locked away behind subscription barriers.  And, best of all, it doesn’t have to take much effort on your part.  In our action center, we provide template letters for active legislation, so writing to your representative is as easy as it is effective.  Finally, in addition to one writing letter on behalf of all the students on your campus, have the individual members of your student government write in.  It’s an easy process that will take no more than a few minutes, but it will multiply the effect your campus has many times over.

Visit our Action Center to write your legislators on behalf of the students on your campus

STEP FOUR: Educate on Campus

Educating students on your campus, as well as encouraging your professors and librarians to do the same, will help ensure that the next generation of scholars, researchers, and students doesn’t fall victim to the current closed system of scholarly publishing that is so harmful to the open, timely, and efficient spread of information.  There are a range of options to engage your student body, ranging from quick and easy to the more elaborate, more high profile, and more fun:

 • In your next newsletter, include a link to our Web site and a short paragraph encouraging students to learn more and explaining why your student government supports Open Access. 

• Add a link and blurb on your Web site showing that you support students’ access to research and the Right to Research Coalition.

• Hold your office hours at a table in a high traffic area of campus and talk to student about why Open Access is important.  Figures on campus-specific budget cuts and journal cancels make effective conversation starting points, and your library will be happy to provide you with those numbers.

• Sponsor an event on your campus during Open Access Week.  OAW was started by students and is a great excuse to organize a panel or set up a table in your student union.

• Open Access mischief!  Find a prominent statue on campus and dress it up in Open Access swag – it’s a great, fun way to expose students to Open Access.  Here are some pictures from George Mason University during last year’s Open Access Week:


• Overprice Tags.  Get a list of the most expensive print journals from your librarian, and print price tags to put on each of the physical copies of the journals.  Since students are rarely aware of the often incredible cost of academic journals, overprice tags are a really effective tool to shock and engage them.  Below is an example from MIT in 2007, and you can find more information including a How-To at http://mako.cc/fun/overpricetags:

• Encourage your librarians to include Open Access in the mandatory library orientation for incoming students.  Open Access at orientation is a great way to approach your whole student body at once and make them aware of the different resources available for them to make their work openly available.

Visit our Resources page for printable brochures, posters, and sample resolutions

STEP FIVE: Advocate on Campus

While policies at the national level can open a large portion of published research, campus open-access policies are crucial to filling in the gaps and expanding access to the scholarly record.  These policies express the faculty's commitment to deposit their final, peer-reviewed manuscript of any published articles into an institutional repository where they can be indexed by services like Google Scholar and linked to databases such as PubMedCentral.  Over 100 have been passed to date, and the majority have passed unanimously or nearly unanimously.  

For more information on campus open-access policies, visit SPARC's campus open access policy homepage

STEP SIX: Get Others Involved

If your student government belongs to any state or national organizations, networks, or consortia, encourage other members to join the Right to Research Coalition and support Open Access.  As a peer organization, you are in the best position to convince others to get on board.  The majority of the students in our Coalition have been brought on board by members reaching out to others with whom they regularly interact.