International Open Access Week has become a regular feature in the global OA calendar each October. But here at Oxford University it clashes with the induction season of the new academic year, meaning low attendance at the events we’ve organised in past years.
We decided to try our own OA Week in 2018 at a different time of year in the hope this would enable more people to participate, especially researchers. A cornerstone was to be an OA day aimed at social sciences, jointly organized with the academic division, building on the success of our 2017 event ‘Publishers, papers and peer review’ which was aimed at the medical sciences and led by an Oxford researcher, Dr. Philippa Matthews. The original plan was to hold the week in late March 2018, but this changed to the end of the summer term to fit in with related events by the Social Sciences Division. The date was set for the week of 11 – 15 June 2018, with the social sciences version of ‘Publishers, papers and peer review’ on Thursday 14th June.
The final programme for OA Oxford Week 2018 consisted of 11 events in 7 different venues over 5 days. Our aim: to focus on the broader research communications landscape, to hear about the visions of policy makers and the opportunities presented by OA for wider dissemination, rather than haranguing authors about compliance. We were fortunate to engage distinguished external speakers in addition to excellent local ones.
It was clearly a good decision to try alternative dates. We had larger audiences than in previous Octobers, with two sessions fully booked and attendees from all disciplines – a respectable number from the research community (research students to senior academic staff, and research administrators), in addition to the usual core of librarians.
Informal feedback showed that attendees welcomed the mix of topics over the week. The social sciences day was particularly successful, superbly led by Prof. Alis Oancea. Overall, we felt it all opened up conversations around research dissemination and provided an opportunity to meet new colleagues from around the university as well as hear from influential names. On the practical side, we made new contacts for venues and catering. We owe special thanks to all the many speakers and helpers. Some of the presentations are available on the OA Oxford Week page and the social sciences OA event page.
On the down side, it was a huge amount of work in the planning, preparation, publicity and practicalities, as for various reasons we ended up with a bigger programme than originally intended. Was it all worth it? On balance, the verdict is ‘Yes!’ and we’re starting to think about another Oxford OA week, on a smaller scale, in spring 2019.
Sally Rumsey (Head of Scholarly Communications & Research Data Management) & Juliet Ralph (Open Access Subject Librarian), Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford.