As regular readers of the JEPS bulletin will know, EFPSA is a staunch supporter of the open access movement. The JEPS Bulletin has led the way in the organisation’s support of this most important issue for modern science and has provided regular informative digests of the latest developments for the open access movement and what these mean for the psychology students of Europe (and beyond!).
As someone who was introduced this issue through following updates of the bulletin, I was honoured to get the chance to be involved in EFPSA’s first steps into greater involvement in the open access movement. In July, Ivan Flis, the Editor-in-Chief of JEPS, and I travelled to Budapest to take part in the first annual Right to Research Coalition General Assembly. Before going into how this will impact the future of EFPSA, let’s recap on some R2RC history!
The Right to Research Coalition (R2RC) was established in 2009 by a group of students who wished to promote an open scholarly publishing system which would ensure access to scientific research for all students regardless of their economic situation or that of their institution. Working on the basis of a strong statement declaring that “Learning and inquiry are impeded when scholars lack access to fellow researchers’ work, and when students lack access to the work of scholars before them” and that open access represents a viable alternative to the current scholarly publishing system, the coalition educates students about the benefits of open access and advocates for policies that strengthen the open access movement at local, national and international levels.
Each member of the coalition commits to this mission statement and the coalition now represents over 7 million students through its many local, national and international student organisation members from around the globe. EFPSA has been a member of the R2RC since 2011 and we were privileged to host the director of the coalition Nick Shockey at our most recent congress in Denmark last April. There Nick hosted a fantastic OA workshop which you can hear more about in our interview with him. The idea of Open Access was new to many at the congress and stirred up much enthusiasm. Thanks to our cooperation with the R2RC we can turn this enthusiasm into action and begin to advocate at national and European levels for students’ right to access scientific research.
It was with this enthusiasm in mind that Ivan and I travelled to Budapest. By attending the GA we aimed to learn how EFPSA can help further the open access cause and how this could be beneficial to psychology students in particular. One focus of the meeting was building up the organization’s internal structure since its original structure only reflected its previous North American focus. The other focus was on how the members of the coalition can engage in advocacy and promotion of the open access movement, including planning events for Open Access Week. Open Access Week will take place from the 22nd of October to the 28th of October, 2012
The meeting began with a welcome session where representatives introduced themselves and their organisations. The organisations present included the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), the European Medical Students Association (EMSA), IFMSA-NL, the University of Colorado Student Government, the University of Nebraska, Medsin-UK, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), SPARC Europe, Lebanese Medical Students’ International Committee (LeMSIC), National Association of Graduate-Professional Students (NAGPS), the American Medical Students Association (AMSA) and the Student PIRGs.
We discussed the aims of each organization and what each had done in terms of open access advocacy to date. It was clear that much more work had been done by the American organisations. However, MEDSIN-UK has had great success in convincing the British Medical Association to endorse open access. It was clear the American representatives have an in depth experience and knowledge of the federal political system in the USA. This is something which is difficult for European organisations to relate to due to the relative lack of direct contact and interest in the EU for the average European student compared to the importance of the US federal government to American students. It’s clear that more effort is needed for European student organisations such as ours to learn how to make an impact on a Europe-wide political level.
In the following meetings we learned about the current state of Open Access in the USA and Europe and also how current members of the coalition have campaigned for open access. For example, the NAGPS president Matt Cooper, described action days of lobbying, advocacy training opportunities, office visits to politicians and faculty members and letter writing campaigns.
Further meetings focused on the structure of the coalition. With the growth of the coalition, it is possible now to have two coordinating committees, one for North America and one for Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Two representatives from each member organisation will sit on the coordinating committee for their relevant region. The first representatives for EFPSA will be Chris Noone and Ivan Flis, who will be the chair of the committee for Europe, Africa and the Middle-East. In the first meeting of this group we discussed how we could learn about the workings of the EU together, how we could share information on funding opportunities and partnerships, how we could encourage partnerships on a local level, how we could create a database of relevant national organisations (in order to grow the coalition) and the need for an advocacy toolkit to help organisations build their advocacy skills.
Finally, the entire group reconvened to discuss the promotion of open access and Open Access Week. Open Access Week is a fantastic opportunity for students to engage in promoting open access and to voice their frustration at the current state of affairs. There are many great ideas for events and activities to organise for Open Access Week on the Right to Research website and the Open Access Week website. For a list of events around Europe, stay tuned to this blog!
As a final remark I’d like to emphasise how much we learned at this meeting about the open access movement and how EFPSA can contribute to it. We look forward to bringing you news of the action EFPSA is taking to advocate for open access. I would also like to reiterate that much credit should be given to the JEPS team for highlighting open access as an issue for psychology students in Europe and for introducing EFPSA to the R2RC.
Chris Noone is a PhD student at the School of Psychology at the National University of Ireland, Galway. His research focuses on the effects of mood on higher-order cognition. He is the Member Representative Coordinator on the Board of Management of EFPSA.