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Open Research Advocacy: Funding Organizations Step Up
By ,
Volume 42, Number 4 - July/August 2018

Eric’s Initation to OA

About 20 years ago, when I was a member of a search committee looking to hire a science librarian at the small college where I worked, we selected a group of finalists and asked them to speak on the topic of Open Access Pub lishing in the Sciences. The concept of OA publishing was new to me, and I learned quite a bit listening to the candidates’ presentations. A couple of years later, I attended my first OA-themed meeting, a session on institutional repositories sponsored by the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC). It felt like the OA movement was picking up steam and would be reshaping the world of scholarly publishing sooner rather than later.

In the 2 decades since my introduction to OA, I’ve seen quite a few develop ments. There are now many highly respected OA journals, mandates by fund ing organizations to make research papers and data OA, and even some aware ness of the issues surrounding OA beyond the rarefied world of researchers and funding entities. Yet while some things have changed, the movement as a whole has not moved at the pace that I expected—and hoped for—when I first became aware of it.

However, during the last 2 years, a new player has emerged in the push toward using OA to make research more widely available. It is particularly significant that this group represents millions and millions of international research dollars.

Open Research Funders Group

In October, 2016, a number of representatives from several large, private foundations who fund research—including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Open Society Foundations, the American Heart Association (AHA), and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation—met to discuss their ongoing role in making research results more widely available through OA publication. Par ticipants in the meeting discussed a wide variety of issues related to the OA movement, and according the meeting report, “there was both consensus and enthusiasm for pursuing a standing group of research funders” (

Such a standing group would focus on these priorities:

  • Solidify a set of actionable principles that can be used by research funders to accelerate access to research and underlying data.
  • Develop, compile, and curate resources that research funders can use to communicate their policies to internal and external stakeholders.
  • Identify opportunities to develop and/or support infrastructure (preferably open and standards-based) that can accelerate openness globally.
  • Share experiences and best practices.
  • Speak in a single, amplified voice in a way that demonstrates the research funder community’s commitment to OA, open data, and open science (

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Eric Hinsdale is a knowledge management consultant at FireOak Strategies. 

Abby Clobridge is is founder and consultant, FireOak Strategies, LLC. 


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