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Engaging with the Public on Research and the Future of Open Access Stephen Pinfield and Emily Nunn Information School, University of Sheffield, UK Open.

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Presentation on theme: "Engaging with the Public on Research and the Future of Open Access Stephen Pinfield and Emily Nunn Information School, University of Sheffield, UK Open."— Presentation transcript:

1 Engaging with the Public on Research and the Future of Open Access Stephen Pinfield and Emily Nunn Information School, University of Sheffield, UK Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association Conference, September 2014

2 The Purpose of Open Access What is open access for? Who is it aimed at?

3 The Issue: Open Access and the General Public “The Research Councils take very seriously their responsibilities in making the outputs from this research publicly available – not just to other researchers, but also to potential users in business, charitable and public sectors, and to the general tax- paying public.” Research Councils UK (2013)

4 Recent Study Aimed to investigate attitudes towards lay summaries of OA journal articles in the context of engaging the general public with medical research Placing lay summaries in the wider contexts of patients’ information-seeking behaviours and OA publishing activities Nunn, E., & Pinfield, S. (2014). Lay summaries of open access journal articles: Engaging with the general public on medical research. Learned Publishing, 27(3), 173–184. doi: /

5 Highlights Qualitative research involving 12 interviews with employees of organisations with a stake in OA publishing and members of patient groups Patient access to the research literature one of a number of information resources that can help them manage their health conditions as ‘informed patients’ Gaining access problematical because of paywalls, discovery problems and language barriers Lay summaries seen as helpful for patients’ health management and OA stakeholders’ in addressing strategic imperatives The research gives rise to number of important wider questions about OA

6 OA and the General Public Question: Should the general public be considered an important potential audience for academic research? “If you can access the research via Europe PMC that’s fantastic, but it doesn’t by any means suggest that it’s understandable” (OA Stakeholder) “In a way [lay summaries] flow naturally from the idea of open access and it’s taking it to some extent to its logical conclusion” (OA Stakeholder) “I don’t think [publishers] do have a responsibility to do that…” (OA Stakeholder)

7 The Rationale for Public Access (1) Question: What are the arguments which point to public access being a priority? OA stakeholders tended to articulate arguments for lay summaries in the same way as OA, around Davis’ (2009) 3 ‘frames’: “public accountability” – publically-funded research should be publically accessible “transparency” – research should be open to scrutiny “public good” – beneficial outcomes flowing from research

8 The Rationale for Public Access (2) OA stakeholders emphasised the “public accountability” and “transparency” frames “The main rationale we give is this idea that the public paid for it so the public should be able to read it” (OA Stakeholder) “It’s very important for us that we can show what’s been achieved from the research that we fund, so it’s almost like the bare minimum for us is to be able to show people the research articles” (OA Stakeholder) Little was said about direct “public good” – can it be demonstrated? Arguments were framed as principles and there was often little consideration of practical issues Pragmatic arguments were made about public good will and future funding “It helps us to convince people of the benefits of continuing to fund us” (OA Stakeholder)

9 The Role of Intermediaries Question: What is the role of intermediaries in enabling the public to access and use research outputs? The study identified different possible intermediaries The expert (clinician) – patient-doctor relationship Agencies communicating science/medicine to the public – patient leaflets etc. Other members of the public – patient fora Lay summaries

10 Practical Issues Question: What are the key practical issues in reaching the public with research? Costs and funding priorities Who should be involved? “I think at the end of the day if you’re being funded by a charity or you’re doing medical research you should be able to explain to people with that condition how your research is going to benefit them and who it’s important” (OA Stakeholder) “Introducing [science communication] as standard research practice[…] so it’s a natural part of their process of thinking about research” (OA Stakeholder) How can benefits be assessed?

11 OA Beyond the Academy: Ongoing Work OA advocacy and public policy are often framed in terms of the benefit to the public In what ways can OA (directly or indirectly) benefit the public? How can these be demonstrated? To what extent is there the need for additional work to yield public benefit?

12 Questions and Comments


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