In my last post, I mentioned that I archive my journal articles in VTechWorks because I really dislike encountering paywalls for scholarship, and I don’t want anyone looking for my work to encounter one. Two new projects could make the scope of the access problem much more apparent.
The first, the OA Button, will use a map to show instances where people from around the world are hitting paywalls, but it will also help users find an open access version of an article. The button, in prototype with a beta version coming soon, is a bookmarklet that you drag to your toolbar and click when you are denied access to an article. If you allow your location to appear, it will be included on a world map.
The second project involves Wikipedia, which encourages those who create or edit entries on the site to document their claims through the use of references. However, when a Wikipedia user clicks one of these links, there is no way of knowing whether it will be accessible or not. The WikiProject Open Access/Signaling OA-ness aims to add an icon next to these links to show users which are open and which aren’t. This will be a convenience since you will know about paywalls before you click, and it will show at a glance what portion of research isn’t accessible by everyone. It would also be interesting to build on this and show how many references across all of Wikipedia aren’t accessible.
What is out of sight is out of mind. These projects will help make the openness of research obvious to all.