Simon Fraser University – From Fur Traps to Science Fiction

What would a fur trader such as Simon Fraser do with Open Access to data? He would probably not have thought of traveling to the mouth of a river which bears his name to this date. However, for the students at Simon Fraser University, the latest signing to COPE shouldn’t present a barrier, but on the contrary, an opportunity to bring about a work, without holdbacks, which will bear their name into the future.

We Don’t Need More Fur

Why don’t we trade fur any longer? Certainly, there are some trappers left, grabbing the leftovers for the believers in the old days. But, basically, Simon Fraser would have no business here and now. The technology enables open access to warmth. At the same time, the grand traditional publishers resemble fur traders of the past. They collect money, and power, they are well organized and still feel like they can offer something that nobody else can. Universities today can see through this design, and they act like it is time to move on from printing-press era into the era of data science.

SF UniWith Trinity College deciding on open access to its research during the Open Access Week, Canadian SF University has signed to COPE, Compact for Open Access Equity. SF Uni has thus committed to “timely establishment of durable mechanisms for underwriting reasonable publication charges for articles written by its faculty and published in fee-based open-access journals and for which other institutions would not be expected to provide funds.”

Since February, 2010, the Open Access Fund exists at SFU library, and the fund has covered so far, author-side fees for researchers who publish in open access journals that charge such fees. The Library also hosts the SFU institutional repository where the digital scholarly output of the university is collected and maintained. The library is a partner to a larger project which should enable Open Journal Systems (OJS), Open Conference Systems (OCS), Open Harvester Systems (OHS) and soon Open Monograph Press (OMP).

Science Fiction University

We were one of the first Canadian universities to embrace open access publishing. By making the results of research freely available, we stand to gain the maximum benefit from publicly-funded research investment by facilitating the transfer of knowledge and stimulating creative thought.
(Vice President for Research, SFU)

There are two key factors common to Universities deciding on Open Access:

  1. High ranking of the University: In 2010, SFU placed 4th in Canada and 66th out of 6000 higher education institutes from across the globe in the Webometrics Ranking of World Universities
  2. The utilization of Dspace Software: An Open Archive Initiative (OAI) – compliant open-source software released by MIT for archiving e-prints and other kinds of academic content

So why do we still use ”traps” if the new software for catching knowledge, and the education about this software exists?  To paraphrase Stevan Harnad, why do we still talk about Open Access in 2010? Tools are here, the awareness is raised, libraries are re-imagined, the research is collaborative, and yet university buildings
still serve mostly for shooting scenes of science fiction films and series. The SFU was used as a shot location to X-Files and Battlestar Galactica. From now on, the building will also serve as a non-fiction future setting for students of the digital era with free access to digitized data.

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2 Responses to Simon Fraser University – From Fur Traps to Science Fiction

  1. On Not Putting The Gold OA-Payment Cart Before The Green OA-Provision Horse

    SUMMARY: Universities need to commit to mandating Green OA self-archiving before committing to spend their scarce available funds to pay for Gold OA publishing. Most of the university’s potential funds to pay Gold OA publishing fees are currently committed to paying their annual journal subscription fees, which are thereby covering the costs of publication already. Pre-emptively committing to pay Gold OA publication fees over and above paying subscription fees will only provide OA for a small fraction of a university’s total research article output; Green OA mandates will provide OA for all of it. Journal subscriptions cannot be cancelled unless the journals’ contents are otherwise accessible to a university’s users. (In addition, the very same scarcity of funds that makes pre-emptive Gold OA payment for journal articles today premature and ineffectual also makes Gold OA payment for monographs unaffordable, because the university funds already committed to journal subscriptions today are making even the purchase of a single print copy of incoming monographs for the library prohibitive, let alone making Gold OA publication fees for outgoing monographs affordable.) Universal Green OA mandates will make the final peer-reviewed drafts of all journal articles freely accessible to all would-be users online, thereby not only providing universal OA, but opening the doors to an eventual transition to universal Gold OA if and when universities then go on to cancel subscriptions, releasing those committed funds to pay the publishing costs of Gold OA.

  2. Pingback: MATH 150 – Calculus I with Review -Now Online | Education Degree Online

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